Is this discrimination?

When is something discrimination? We understand it might be difficult sometimes to properly recognise discrimination. Have you been rejected from a job as truck driver because you don’t have a driver’s license? That is not discrimination. Have you been rejected because you are a woman, Muslim or homosexual? Then there has definitely been discrimination. Below you will find a brief overview. Where does your report belong?

What is discrimination?

Discrimination is the unequal treatment and marginalisation of people or groups based on characteristics that should never be used to treat people differently. Examples include ethnicity, gender, skin colour, sexual orientation, age, religion, ability or chronic illness.
There are different forms of discrimination. Are you unsure if you or someone else is being discriminated against? Check the list below of the grounds and areas of discrimination. If you are unable to find your own case in the list or require further help with identifying your discrimination, feel free to contact us.

What is your complaint about?

There are 12 grounds of discrimination:

If you are treated unequally, excluded or treated with hostility because of your ethnicity or skin colour.

If you are treated differently compared to someone with a permanent employment contract. For example, bonuses might be withheld from you because your employment contract is temporary.

If you are treated unequally depending on whether or not you are a full-time employee. For example, a part-time employee might be being paid less than a full-time counterpart even though they do the same work.

If you do not get a job because of a chronic illness or you cannot access a building because you are in a wheelchair or cannot participate in an event.

If you are treated unequally based on your cohabitation situation or marital status (as recognised in the Netherlands).

If you are treated unequally because of your gender. Examples include being paid less for the same work, discrimination based on pregnancy or discrimination during recruitment and applicant selection. This can also count for discrimination against transsexuals.

If you are treated unequally because of your religion. Examples include not getting a job at a Christian institution because you are not Christian or receiving inappropriate treatment for wearing a kippah, yarmulke or a hijab. 

If you are treated unequally because you are “too old” or “too young” for a job, for example. This kind of discrimination also includes commercial exclusion.

If you are treated unequally because of your beliefs or philosophy on life. We understand a belief system to be a collection of ideas that relate to fundamental conceptions regarding human existence.

Specific goods and services are unavailable to you because you do not have the Dutch nationality or a favourable residence permit. For example, this type of discrimination occurs regularly in looking for telephone contracts.

If you are treated unequally because of your political beliefs.

If you are treated unequally because of your sexual orientation.

If you have a complaint that is not (yet) included in the scope of equal treatment legislation. This might concern discrimination based on a variety of diverse characteristics. For example, you might be discriminated against because of appearance (i.e. tattoos or hairstyle), an Amsterdam accent, social position, insufficient assertiveness or capability, income, place of residence, or your clothing style.

There are 13 areas of discrimination:

These are problems that arise in the context of work. Typical situations include during a job interview, during the job itself or differences in employment conditions. This also further includes a temp agency refusing to serve you because of your hijab or being refused an internship because of your sexual orientation.

These are problems that arise between neighbours or in the context of neighbourhood facilities.

This includes complaints regarding non-commercial or government organisations. For example, council services or social security institutions. This also includes healthcare providers such as the GGD, general practitioners, hospitals, company doctors or welfare providers in the context of social work.

Complaints in this area might involve retail companies, financial services or public transport. Examples include inappropriate treatment by retail staff, exclusion from mortgages and loans, or discrimination by ticket-checking staff on the bus.

Complaints in this area include discrimination based on race (ethnicity and skin colour) and gender in the context of entrance policy and the social environment of clubs, cafes, restaurants, events and theatres.

These might include complaints regarding an intermediary service in the housing market or the distribution of housing. This also includes the action or inaction of social housing corporations. 

Complaints about expressions in the media concern the particular medium (TV, radio, internet, magazines), not the actual expressions being put forward through that medium. For example, a complaint might be towards a particular TV-programme in which a politician makes certain statements. Complaints about advertising concern statements and expressions that contribute to certain prejudices, such as the stereotypical portrayal of certain groups.

This area includes all complaints that relate to education. Examples include complaints about school advice, admissions and registration. Complaints in this area also include unequal treatment by teaching staff, management or fellow students.

These are complaints that primarily play out on the street, in traffic, at metro stations, bus stops or at the market. For example, you might be publically insulted on the street in a way that relates to your race or another ground of discrimination.

This area includes complaints regarding discrimination by the police, the Afdeling Vreemdelingenpolitie, Identificatie en Mensenhandel (Aliens Police, Identification and Human Trafficking Department/AVIM), the Koninklijke Marechausse (Border Police) and the Openbaar Ministerie (Public Prosecutor /OM). Examples include being treated unfairly, insulted or violently harmed by the police. The police might also refuse to make a report of discrimination even though you request them to. Furthermore, you might be pulled over or otherwise stopped based on ethnic profiling.

These complaints primarily revolve around discriminatory treatment within relationships or families. For example, people might not accept your being in a “mixed” relationship.

This includes complaints that might concern statements made by politicians, public personalities or columnists. These statements are oftentimes published in the media, during protests or in other publications like newspapers, books and magazines.

Complaints about discrimination in sport can include insults on the pitch but also the accessibility of sporting clubs for certain groups. Recreation includes, for example, a city park, campgrounds or an allotment garden.

Is your complaint not listed above?

Still stuck with some questions? Feel free to contact us at 020-6385551 or send an email to Be sure to also check our frequently asked questions.

Housing not granted

The client lives under the supervision of a foundation supporting victims who cannot live independently. Through the foundation she gets assigned another housing unit.

Read more »

This is discrimination

Would you like to see some examples of discrimination? Or would you like to know what we do in specific cases? Here you can see a few cases where we have supported people.
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