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Are you a woman of initiative?

August 2011 - Employment. Legal Developments by Norrbom Vinding Law Firm, member of ius laboris.

More articles by this firm.

A women’s magazine used such unfortunate wording in a job advert that it fell into the discrimination trap.

If employers wish to post a job advert aimed specifically at either men or women, they need to apply for exemption. If they are denied exemption – or forget to apply – they will be in breach of the Danish Act on Equal Treatment of Men and Women if they post the job advert anyway. This can be seen from a recent decision from the Danish Board of Equal Treatment.

”We are looking for a woman of initiative”. This was how the magazine wrote when it was looking for new journalist. This message did not go down well with a male applicant. He found it hard to see how he would fit that profile.
He therefore turned to the Danish Board of Equal Treatment. For aiming a job advert exclusively at women is against the Danish Act on Equal Treatment of Men and Women, he believed.
The magazine emphasised that a 'woman of initiative' should not be taken as excluding anyone. Everyone with an interest in immersing themselves into the magazine’s female subject matter was naturally welcome to apply. But the job had been given to an internal applicant so no job interviews had actually been held.
One interpretation only
The Board did not flinch. The wording could not be taken in any other way than that the magazine was looking for a female journalist. The fact that the remainder of the advert was not aimed specifically at female applicants was not a mitigating factor. Accordingly, since the magazine had not applied for or been given exemption, it had breached the Danish Act on Equal Treatment of Men and Women.
Norrbom Vinding notes:
  • that employers should take care in how their job adverts are worded to ensure that they cannot be taken as being aimed at a particular gender.
The above does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such

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