1. Are employees protected against discrimination?

Both the RF Constitution and the Labor Code contain provisions expressly prohibiting discrimination. Under Article 19 of the RF Constitution and Article 3 of the Labor Code, no preferences can be given on the basis of any circumstances not related to the professional characteristics of the employee (e.g. gender, race, citizenship, social position and occupation, age and place of residence).

Discriminatory job advertisements are also prohibited. Employers placing job advertisements that include requirements that can be considered discriminatory based on race, gender, color of skin, or other categories are subject to administrative fines of up to RUB 15,000 (Article 25(6) of RF Law No. 1032-1 "On Employment in the Russian Federation").

2. What types of discrimination are unlawful and in what circumstances?

Discrimination of employees or job seekers on the basis of gender, race, citizenship, religion, social position and occupation, age, place of residence and other characteristics not related to the professional qualities of the employee is prohibited.

Only professional qualities of job applicants may be taken into account during the hiring process. According to Resolution of the RF Supreme Court No. 2, dated March 17, 2004 "On Implementation of the Labor Code of the Russian Federation by the Russian Courts", personal qualities include, but are not limited to: professional education or qualification/specialization; and personal qualities (state of health, work experience). Employers are prohibited from rejecting a job applicant without having reasonable grounds for doing so. Any direct or indirect restriction of rights or demonstration of direct or indirect preference when hiring on the basis of gender or other characteristics unrelated to the applicant's professional qualities is prohibited. Employers may not refuse to offer a job to a woman on the grounds of her being pregnant or having children either.

Regarding the prohibition of discrimination, the Labor Code establishes certain exceptions and restrictions to an employee's rights due to requirements relevant to a specific type of work that are provided by federal law or the Labor Code (Article 3(2) of the Labor Code). For example, Article 253 of the Labor Code prohibits women from being hired to perform heavy work, to work under harmful (hazardous) conditions.

3. How can employees protect their rights against discrimination?

Job applicants may:

  • File a written request asking the employer to clarify the reasons for refusing to conclude an employment agreement with him/her. Employers are obliged to provide written explanations within 10 business days of receipt of the request.
  • Submit a complaint to the Federal Labor Inspection or to prosecutors.
  • Bring a discrimination claim before a court of general jurisdiction requesting restoration of his/her rights, compensation of damages and compensation of moral harm.

4. What liability may be imposed on employers/company's officials in the event of discrimination?

Discrimination is an offence punishable under:

  • The RF Administrative Code, which stipulates an administrative fine of up to RUB 100,000 for legal entities or up to RUB 3,000 for company officials (Article 5.62 of Administrative Code).
  • The RF Criminal Code, which stipulates a fine of up to RUB 300,000 for an individual, or disqualification for a period of one-two years, or mandatory work of up to 400 hours or a maximum of five years' imprisonment (Article 136 of the Criminal Code).

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.