Norway's Initial Report

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Anti-Discrimination and Accessibility Act

14. The Anti-Discrimination and Accessibility Act protects against discrimination based on disability. The basis for discrimination covers physical, mental and cognitive disabilities. The purpose of the Act is to promote equality and equity, ensure equal opportunities for and rights to social participation for all persons, regardless of functional ability, and to prevent discrimination based on disability. Furthermore, the Act should help remove barriers created by society and prevent new ones from being created.
15. The Anti-Discrimination and Accessibility Act prohibits engagement in discrimination and harassment. It also prohibits engagement in and incitement to engage others in discrimination and harassment. Breach of the provisions governing accommodation laid down in the Act constitutes discrimination. Direct and indirect discrimination based on disability are prohibited. The prohibition applies to discrimination based on any actual, assumed, past or future disability. Protection against discrimination also includes discrimination against people based on their relationship with a person with a disability. Employers and managements in organisations and educational institutions must prevent harassment from occurring within their respective areas of responsibility.
16. Public authorities, employers and employer organisations are subject to activity and reporting obligations. Public authorities must make active, targeted and systematic efforts to promote the objective of the Act. The Act accommodates the use of positive differential treatment. Differential treatment that helps promote the purpose of the Act is not deemed to constitute discrimination, and must cease to apply once the purpose is achieved.
17. The Anti-Discrimination and Accessibility Act imposes a duty to ensure both universal design (general accommodation) and individual accommodation. By 'universal design' is meant design or accommodation of the main system as regards the physical conditions so that the normal function of the undertaking can be used by as many people as possible. Individual accommodation is intended to meet individual needs. Regulations governing individual accommodation are additional and supplementary to the duty to ensure universal design, and are limited to specific areas of social activity that are deemed to have particular significance for individuals. The duty to ensure universal design and individual accommodation is subject to considerations of disproportionate burden.
18. Public and private undertakings serving the general public have a duty to ensure universal design of the undertaking's normal function as long as this does not impose a disproportionate burden on the undertaking. Universal design in other areas, such as transport and communication, is regulated by sector legislation. The duty to provide individual accommodation is imposed on employers, kindergartens, schools, educational institutions and some municipal services under the Health and Care Services Act.
19. The duty to provide individual accommodation does not cover accommodation that implies a disproportionate burden. Sector legislation applies in sectors in which universal design is regulated. This applies, for example, to new buildings and parts of the transport sector. The requirements in the Anti-Discrimination and Accessibility Act apply in areas where no requirements for universal design are prescribed in sector legislation; for example, existing buildings for use by the general public.

20. The Act requires employers to provide information in recruitment processes. Job applicants who feel they were passed over in breach of the prohibition against discrimination or of the employer's obligation to provide individual accommodation, may request the employer to provide information in writing concerning the education, experience and other clearly verifiable qualifications of the successful applicant.

21. Family life and other matters of a personal nature are exempt from the scope of application of the Act. Differential treatment that is needed in order to achieve a legitimate objective, and that does not have a disproportionately negative effect on the person or persons involved, is not deemed to be discrimination. In working life, differential treatment must in addition be necessary to the performance of work or a profession.
22. The Act is enforced by the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud and the Norwegian Equality Tribunal. The Ombud's authority as law enforcer entails expressing an opinion as to whether or not a case is in breach of discrimination legislation. Such opinions are not legally binding. If voluntary agreement cannot be reached, the Ombud may forward the case to the Norwegian Equality Tribunal, which has the authority to issue a legally binding order. If the parties fail to comply with the opinion of the Ombud and if this waiting for the Tribunal’s decision is assumed to cause inconvenience or harm, the Ombud may make a binding decision and issue an order to remedy or stop such conduct. The Tribunal has, with some exceptions, the authority to reach a decision to the effect that a breach of anti-discrimination legislation has occurred, and may order such conduct to be stopped or remedied or may order other measures to ensure that discrimination, harassment, instructions or reprisals are stopped and not repeated. The Tribunal has the authority to impose a coercive fine to ensure implementation of orders. The Act prescribes rules governing shared burden of proof. By 'shared burden of proof' is meant that when circumstances give grounds to believe that discrimination has occurred, and the person responsible fails to substantiate that discrimination did not in fact occur, such discrimination shall be assumed to have occurred.
23. People who feel they have been treated in breach of the prohibition against discrimination may claim compensation for economic and non-economic loss. It is the courts that can award compensation. In an employment relationship, this responsibility applies regardless of whether or not the employer can be blamed for discrimination. In other areas of society, the responsibility applies if the person who engaged in discrimination can be blamed for doing so. Compensation must cover economic loss as a result of discrimination. Compensation for non-economic loss is set at a level considered reasonable given the scope and nature of the loss, the relationship between the parties, and other circumstances. These rules do not limit the person's right to claim economic and non-economic compensation under general rules of compensation.

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