Ban on workplace discrimination

All employers should work actively and dedicatedly towards promoting equal opportunity and the prevention of discrimination. The ban on discrimination applies to all aspects of the employment - from the recruitment to the termination of the employment. As an employer, you are not allowed to treat applicants, employees or contracted workers differently without probable cause.


The Equality and Anti-Discrimination Act and the Working Environment Act contain provisions prohibiting discrimination based on:

  • Gender
  • Pregnancy
  • Parental leave in connection with the birth of a child or adoption
  • Caregiving responsibilities
  • Ethnicity (e.g. nationality, skin colour and language)
  • Religion
  • Life stance
  • Disabilities
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity
  • Gender expression
  • Age
  • Political affiliation
  • Membership in trade unions

In essence, this means it is illegal to place (positive or negative) emphasis on these aspects when, for example, hiring or determining wages.

Differential treatment can still be accepted if there is a valid and necessary reason behind it, and if the disadvantage for the employee is less than the advantage gained by the employer. For example, requiring proficiency in a language is often considered a valid, necessary and fair requirement. Age requirements set out in rules and regulations, for example minimum age requirements for serving alcohol, is not considered discrimination.

You will find specific advice and tips on how to prevent discrimination on the websites of the Equality and anti-discrimination ombudsman and the Labour Inspection Authority.

Equality and anti-discrimination ombudsman - Avoid discrimination (in Norwegian only)

Labour inspection authority on protection against discrimination (in Norwegian only)

Positive differential treatment

The provision in the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Act regarding positive differential treatment allows for occasions of differential treatment if this benefits underrepresented groups. Generally, it is illegal to place importance on, for example, gender, disability or ethnicity when hiring labour. If a group is underrepresented in the workplace, and the reason behind this is that this group experience barriers, temporary measures to counter the barriers may be allowed. The Act identifies three conditions that must be met for such differential treatment to be allowed: The differential treatment must a) have a fair purpose, b) be necessary in order to achieve the purpose, and c) not be disproportionately invasive to those who are discriminated against.

Examples of temporary measures that may be allowed if the terms are met can be:

  • interviewing less qualified applicants from an underrepresented group
  • mentoring program for women
  • trainee position reserved for people with disabilities

Ban on retribution

It is not allowed to treat an employee worse because he or she has made a complaint, or expressed the possible intent to making a complaint, against violation of the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Act. This also applies to witnesses in a complaint case, and to people aiding in making the claim.

Equality and anti-discrimination ombudsman on Retribution (in Norwegian only)

Dispute resolution body

The anti-discrimination committee settles complaints against violations of the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Act.

The district courts settles compensation claims following violations of the ban on discrimination in the Working Environment Act.

The Anti-discrimination Council(in Norwegian only)

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