Everyone in the Netherlands is entitled to equal treatment. This right is considered so important that it is enshrined in Article 1 of the Dutch Constitution.
If you feel that you have been discriminated against, you can take various steps. The law lists the forms of discrimination against which you can take action, including discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief, origin, sexual orientation, sex, skin colour, race, civil status, disability or chronic illness, or age.
Taking action against discrimination
In cases of discrimination, you can present your situation or submit your complaint to:
- your employer, landlord, educational institution or transport company. There may be a complaints officer or a complaints committee that can help you find an acceptable solution;
- an antidiscrimination service (ADV) or discrimination reporting office in your area. You can call the national BelGelijk discrimination helpline on 0900 235 4354. Calls cost €0.10 per minute and are automatically transferred to your local antidiscrimination voorziening (ADV);
- the Equal Treatment Commission (CGB). This is an independent body that monitors compliance with the law. Anyone can submit a request for an investigation to the CGB. Companies and organisations can also contact the CGB with questions or to have their own policies reviewed. The CGB procedure is free of charge. The CGB’s findings are not binding, so parties are not required to abide by them. In practice, however, parties often comply with the CGB’s findings and recommendations;
- a civil or administrative court. In cases in which you have already approached the CGB, the court is required to take the CGB’s findings into account in its decision. However, you can also apply to the courts without first contacting the CGB.
Seeking advice from an antidiscrimination service
If you are uncertain whether it is worthwhile to submit a complaint, you can first seek advice from an antidiscrimination service. All municipalities in the Netherlands have such a service. Anyone can approach the service with a question or complaint about discrimination. The ADV provides assistance and advice and registers the complaint.
The contact details of all antidiscrimination services and discrimination reporting offices appear on the discriminatie.nl website and on the website of Art. 1, the national association against discrimination.
National discrimination helpline
You can call the national discrimination helpline on 0900 235 4354 to report or seek advice on discrimination. Calls cost €0.10 per minute and are automatically transferred to your local antidiscrimination bureau.
Equal Treatment Commission
If you have experienced unequal treatment, you can also contact the Equal Treatment Commission (CGB) at www.cgb.nl/english. The CGB determines whether any laws have been broken. The CGB is independent and does not charge for its services.
The party that has subjected you to unequal treatment must account for its actions to the CGB. The CGB’s findings are not binding, so parties are not required to abide by them. In practice, however, parties often comply with the CGB’s findings.
When reporting discrimination, you may provide as much or as little personal information as you like. You may also report discrimination anonymously by phone dialling the number of Bel M. (0800 7000), in which case you do not need to provide any personal information. For more information, see Report crime anonymously at www.meldmisdaadanoniem.nl/english/report-crime-anonymously. You cannot....... anonymously.
Internet discrimination hotline
If you find discriminatory statements on the internet, you can report them to the internet discrimination hotline (MDI). Such statements can involve discrimination on the grounds of religion, origin, sexual orientation, sex, skin colour, disability or age. The internet discrimination hotline (MDI) (in Dutch) registers and processes these reports.
The hotline evaluates reports of discrimination on the Dutch part of the internet. If the MDI believes that a particular statement is unlawful, it issues a request for the removal of that statement. In exceptional cases it contacts the police.
You can report internet discrimination by sending an email to the MDI. In your email, state clearly what discriminatory material you have found and where it is located on the internet. The MDI’s contact details and an explanation of the reporting procedure are available on the MDI’s website.