The German Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency (“Antidiskriminierungsstelle”) has provided a legal framework as
basis for a multicultural society that is free of any kind of discrimination. Its main principle is that every
person is equally important and has equal rights, regardless of ethnic background, gender, disability, religion,
belief, age or sexual orientation.
The purpose of this Act is to prevent or to stop discrimination on the grounds of race or ethnic origin, gender,
religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.
§ 2 Scope
(1) For the purposes of this Act, any discrimination within the meaning of Section 1 shall be inadmissible
conditions for access to dependent employment and self-employment, including selection criteria and
recruitment conditions, whatever the branch of activity and at all levels of professional hierarchy,
employment conditions and working conditions, including pay and reasons for dismissal, in particular
contracts between individuals, collective bargaining agreements and measures to implement and
an employment relationship, as well as for promotion;
access to all types and to all levels of vocational guidance, vocational training, advanced
training and retraining, including practical work experience;
membership of and involvement in an organisation of workers or employers or any organisation whose
members carry on a particular profession, including all benefits provided for by such organisations;
social protection, including social security and health care;
access to and supply of goods and services which are available to the public, including
(2) Section 33c Social Code, Book I and Section 19a Social Code, Book IV shall apply to social benefits. The
Company Pensions Act (Betriebsrentengesetz) shall apply to company pension schemes.
(3) The application of other prohibitions of discrimination or laws on equal treatment shall
remain unaffected by this Act. The same shall apply, mutatis mutandis, to provisions under public law which
serve the protection of specific groups of persons.
(4) Only the provisions governing the protection against unlawful dismissal in general and specific cases
apply to dismissals.
§ 3 Definitions
(1) Direct discrimination shall be taken to occur where one person is treated less favourably than another
has been or would be treated in a comparable situation on any of the grounds referred to under Section 1.
discrimination on grounds of sex shall also be taken to occur in relation to Section 2(1) Nos 1 to 4 in the
event of the less favourable treatment of a woman on account of pregnancy or maternity.
(2) Indirect discrimination shall be taken to occur where an apparently neutral provision,
criterion or practice would put persons at a particular disadvantage compared with other
persons on any of the grounds referred to under Section 1, unless that provision, criterion or practice is
objectively justified by a legitimate aim and the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary.
(3) Harassment shall be deemed to be discrimination when an unwanted conduct in connection with any of the
grounds referred to under Section 1 takes place with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of the
person concerned and of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.
(4) Sexual harassment shall be deemed to be discrimination in relation to Section 2(1) Nos1 to 4, when an
unwanted conduct of a sexual nature, including unwanted sexual acts and requests to carry out sexual acts,
physical contact of a sexual nature, comments of a sexual nature, as well as the unwanted showing or public
exhibition of pornographic images, takes place with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of the
concerned, in particular where it creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive
(5) An instruction to discriminate against a person on any of the grounds referred to under
Section 1 shall be deemed as discrimination. Such an instruction shall in particular be taken to occur in
relation to Section 2(1) Nos 1 to 4 where a person instructs an employee to conduct which discriminates or
discriminate against another employee on one of the grounds referred to under Section 1.
§ 4 Unequal Treatment on Several Grounds
Where unequal treatment occurs on several of the grounds referred to under Section 1, this unequal treatment may
only be justified under Sections 8 to 10 and 20 when the justification extends to all those grounds for which
equal treatment occurred.
§ 5 Positive Action
Notwithstanding the grounds referred to under Sections 8 to 10 and 20, unequal treatment shall only be
where suitable and appropriate measures are adopted to prevent or compensate for disadvantages arising on any of
grounds referred to under Section 1.