DECISION T-572 / 2017

The Constitutional Court ruled that there should be parameters to establish whether there are situations of racial discrimination in an employment relationship and, therefore, the Court gave the Labor Ministry  three months to create a document setting out those contexts where racial discrimination can occur.

A citizen complained to the company for what he saw as a constant abuse and discrimination from his colleagues at work, who referred to him with expressions denigrating his African descent.The petitioner requested the company’s directives to conduct an investigation into the facts. However, the response to the request was negative.On 5 April 2013, the petitioner was informed by the Company that his employment contract had been terminated alleging lower sales of the company. According to the plaintiff, the real reason for his dismissal was his discrimination complaint.The citizen filed an action for protection, but this was denied at first and second instance by the Council of State.

After a review of this case, the Constitutional Court considered that the Labor Ministry failed to observe the regulations protecting the workers´ right to non-discrimination and gave orders to stop this happening again: “The Labor Ministry would set up a commission made up, among other people, of professionals of different disciplines, and with knowledge of the situation of ethnic minorities in the country, in order to produce and deliver  within three months a document proposing the forms and contexts in which there can be a disregard for the principle of non-racial discrimination, the implications of this infringement and the possible ways to avoid this situation. Also, the Labor Ministry shall issue an internal circular to its officials establishing guidelines, recommendations and eventually specific mechanisms to address, handle and deal with complaints of racial discrimination at work.