Skeyes accused of age discrimination as jobs agency introduces new rules

Skeyes accused of age discrimination as jobs agency introduces new rules
Air traffic control authority Skeyes. Credit: Skeyes

Skeyes, Belgium’s national air traffic control authority, has been found guilty by an industrial tribunal in Brussels of age discrimination. The case was brought by the federal government’s equal opportunities agency Unia.

Skeyes was accused of refusing to invite job applicants aged over 25 to interview. Skeyes argued that the cognitive facilities of applicants diminished after the age of 25, which could present a risk to air traffic.

According to Unia, who had tried to reach a solution amicably before starting legal action, Skeyes had failed to provide any evidence of its claim. The tribunal, therefore, ruled the age discrimination illegal.

Seven job applicants who had been refused an interview on grounds of age were awarded damages equivalent to six months of salary by the court. Skeyes was also ordered to pay a fine of €500 for every day it continues to apply the age limit for interviews.

Skeyes said it would examine the judgement before deciding how to proceed. According to Unia, meanwhile, the number of complaints of age discrimination went up in 2018 by 35% compared to the average of the previous fine years – an increase the agency attributed to wider public discussion of the problem, which encouraged victims of discrimination to come forward.

Meanwhile the Brussels region’s jobs agency Actiris will today launch an anti-discrimination hotline, and increase the staff of its anti-discrimination unit, the organisation said.

The decision comes as a result of Actiris receiving a growing number of reports of job applicants being turned down on illegal grounds of discrimination for reasons of national origin, race, religion and sexual orientation, among other factors.

Foreign origin is the most common reason for discrimination, but foreign origin is not the only obstacle,” a spokesperson for Actiris told Bruzz. “Every day in Brussels job-seekers are discriminated against on grounds of handicap, age, health circumstances or religion.”

Actiris has now set up a freephone hotline (0800 35 089) for reports of discrimination in job applications. Those affected can also fill in a report form on the organisation’s website giving details of the case. Complaints will be dealt with by Actiris Inclusive, its anti-discrimination service, which will be given more resources.

Each of Actiris’s offices will be detailed an anti-discrimination official who will hold an open surgery each morning from 0900 to 1200. Their job is to take details of a complaint, advise job-seekers of their rights and, where the circumstances demand, advise them on taking the complaint further, for example to Unia.

Our message is: if you have a problem of discrimination when applying for a job, report it. That’s the first step to finding a solution,” commented Actiris director Grégor Chapelle.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

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