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Discrimination and unequal treatment

The obligation to counter discrimination and ensure equal treatment of all members of the Jagiellonian University community results, among others, from Article 4(2) of its Statute.

Discrimination can be broadly defined as unequal and inferior treatment, often also an unlawful act, omission, criterion or regulation concerning people or groups on grounds of their actual or alleged identity traits, such as: sex, gender identity, skin colour (“race”), language, national or ethnic origin, religion, denomination or lack of religious beliefs, worldview, health status and disability, age, psychosexual orientation, socio-economic status, etc. (it is not a closed catalogue).

Discrimination can take various forms. They include, but are not limited to the following:

Direct discrimination (under the Labour Code) when a person (…) was, is or could be treated less favourably than other persons in a comparable situation for one or several reasons. Such inferior treatment may occur due to:

  • a perceived characteristic of a person (actual or alleged);
  • a person’s relationship with another person (or association with them).
Example: a situation where a lecturer lowers the requirements for part-time students: he does not expect them to master the entire material from class, asks them easier questions during the exam and evaluates them more leniently.

Indirect discrimination (under the Labour Code) “when as a result of an apparently neutral provision, criterion applied or action taken there occur or could occur adverse disproportions or a particularly adverse situation in the scope of establishing or terminating employment, conditions of employment, promotion and access to training in order to improve the professional qualifications in relation to all or a considerable number of employees distinguished for one or several reasons. Unequal treatment is admissible when a provision, criterion or action is objectively justified due to a legitimate purpose to be achieved and the means used to achieve that purpose are proper and necessary”.

Example: a situation where a bonus is available only to persons with 100% attendance, which places persons with dependants under their care at a disadvantage.

A manifestation of discrimination is also (pursuant to the Labour Code) conduct consisting in encouraging another person to violate the equal treatment principle or ordering them to do so.

Example: a situation where a superior tells a person who will be in charge of recruitment for a new project: “I’ve seen that there’s an applicant in a wheelchair. Of course, do invite him to the job interview, but you understand well that we can’t guarantee comfortable conditions for a person in a wheelchair here”.

Harassment – undesirable behaviour related to one or several identity traits, whose aim or result is the violation of a natural person’s dignity and creating in relation to them an intimidating, hostile, demeaning, humiliating or disparaging atmosphere.

Example: a situation where a person derides or mocks somebody’s origin or appearance.

Sexual harassment – any undesirable behaviour of a sexual nature or with respect to
a person’s sex (e.g. touching, coming up too close, groping, comments referring to the appearance or physique of a person, as well as showing or posting photographs depicting persons as sexual objects, sexist jokes).

Example: a situation where a lecturer “half-jokingly” announces that female students who come to the exam wearing trousers will get worse marks than the ones wearing skirts, but also the perpetuation of stereotypical images of men and women in materials promoting the activity of a student research group or in the course of student cultural activity (e.g. “Super Student” and “Nicest Female Student” contests).

Hate speech – all forms of expression (spoken, written, graphic representations, etc.) mocking, degrading, abusing, accusing people or other entities as well as threatening them or instilling a sense of threat in them due to their actual or alleged identity trait.

Example: stickers in the university’s public space presenting white supremacy symbols or a crossed-out Star of David.

A more detailed description of various forms of discrimination including examples of discriminatory behaviours and tips how to react in such situations can be found in the section dedicated to discrimination and harassment as part of the Health and Safety in Education course.

If you encounter any form of discrimination during your (doctoral) studies or work at the Jagiellonian University, notify the Rector's Proxy for Student Safety and Security or the persons working at the Department of Security, Safety and Equal Treatment – Safe JU.

Also, read the advice included in the sections dedicated to:

  • help in crisis situations – if you cannot cope with a difficult situation or need specialist support;
  • help for crime victims – if a certain discriminatory behaviour amounts to a criminal offence;
  • legal aid – when you intend to take legal steps in relation to a given behaviour and need specialist support.

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