Home > Workplace > Netherlands > 2012-07-24 - Equal Treatment Commission, n. 2012-126

2012-07-24 - Equal Treatment Commission, n. 2012-126

Workplace · The Netherlands · Discrimination · Faith-Based Organisation · Religious belonging

A Catholic teacher can be refused a position in a Protestant school

Key facts of the case - A man applied for the post of senior lecturer in ethics at a Protestant institution of higher learning. The institution decides not to appoint the man, in part because he is a member of the Roman Catholic Church. The man believes that the institution has made a prohibited distinction against him on the basis of religion.

Main reasoning of the court - Firstly, the Commission establishes that the institution and the applicant disagree on whether the applicant meets the requirements set by the institution with regard to familiarity and affinity with its identity. But it is to the institution to decide whether he has met these requirements. On the basis of the Maimonides judgment of the Supreme Court, the Commission does not enter into a substantive debate.
The Commission concludes that the school has not appointed the applicant because he is a member of the Roman Catholic Church. Therefore the institution has made a direct distinction on the basis of religion. However, the Equal Treatment Act (ETA) provides an exception clause to this prohibition for free (but state supported) schools which are based on religious or ideological principles (Article 5 (2), subsection c. ETA).
The Commission finds that the school may successfully invoke this exception clause: the institution at hand can, by virtue of its statutes, be regarded as a denominational school. Moreover, the school also adopts a consistent policy aimed at maintaining its (Reformed Protestant) basis. It expects all its teachers to be active members of a Protestant church. The institution considers it as its duty to educate students to become professionals with a Reformed Protestant basis.
Therefore, the Commission considers that the requirements which the institution sets for a teacher regarding his religious beliefs are necessary for the fulfillment of its principles. Since the requirements do not distinguish on the basis of one of the other grounds which are protected by the Equal Treatment Act, the distinction is not prohibited.