Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School - Green Background

Country Details

  • KHO 2013:46, Finland, Supreme Administrative Court, 2013.
    The issue here was whether the concept of presumption of discrimination, as set forth in the Finnish Equality Act (609/1986, as amended) (the “Equality Act”), applied in the case where a less-merited male applicant had been appointed over two female applicants, and whether there was a justifiable reason for discrimination. In the case, the Regional Council of Lapland, a politically steered joint municipal board, had appointed V, a male applicant, as its director of development. Two female applicants, E and H, had disputed the council’s decision to appoint V on the basis that the appointment was based on V’s political affiliations and also because the decision breached the Equality Act. The Supreme Administrative Court considered (i) whether the threshold for presumed discrimination had been exceeded and, if this were the case, (ii) if there were grounds for the rebuttal of the presumption. The Court found that both E and H had been adequately qualified for the position and had more merits relevant to the position than V. On this basis, the Court held that E and H had sufficiently shown that they had not been appointed because of their gender and that, as a result, a presumption of discrimination, as set forth in Section 8 of the Equality Act, had arisen. Under the Equality Act, to rebut a presumption of discrimination an employer must show that its actions are attributable to a justifiable reason not connected to gender or that the actions were based on weighty and acceptable grounds related to the nature of the job or the task. The Regional Council of Lapland claimed that, in this case, the justifiable reason not connected to gender was V’s having more socio-political experience. The Court, however, held that socio-political experience was not specifically mentioned in the pre-established selection criteria for the position and was, therefore, part of the general merit assessment of the applicants. As discussed, the Court had found that, based on this assessment, both E and H had more merits relevant to the position than V. Therefore, the Court held that V’s socio-political experience was not a justifiable reason for his appointment. For these reasons, the Supreme Administrative Court agreed with the earlier holding of the Administrative Court of Rovaniemi that the decision of the Regional Council of Lapland to appoint V as its director of development was made in breach of the Equality Act and, therefore, ordered the decision to be annulled.
  • KKO 2013:96, Finland, Supreme Court, 2013.
    The issue here was related to the evaluation of evidence and the question whether the sexual intercourse in question was coerced. In this case, A and X had engaged in sexual intercourse which, according to A’s testimony, she was coerced into following physical approaches and violence by X, the male defendant. A had asked X to stop the approaches and attempted to resist him both physically and verbally. X had not complied but instead continued to engage in sexual conduct. A contended that due to the distress and fear caused by the events and the fact that she was physically significantly smaller than X she was no longer able to resist X’s approaches. A stated that the only thing she could think about at that point was that she did not want to get a sexually transmitted disease from X and, therefore, handed X a condom for him to use. After this, A and X had sexual intercourse. X contended that the intercourse was consensual. X further claimed that he could not have understood, in particular after A had given him a condom, that he was coercing A to have sexual intercourse. In its evaluation of the evidence, the Supreme Court stated that it held A’s description of the events reliable as her account was supported by the facts presented to the Court and since X’s description of the events had changed during the process, thereby reducing his credibility. X had, however, further claimed that even if the description of events given by A was accurate, the elements of the crime of coercion into sexual intercourse were not present in the case. As set forth in Section 3 of Chapter 20 of the Finnish Criminal Code (39/1889, as amended) (the “Criminal Code”), the crime of coercion into sexual intercourse is a rape that, in view of the slight degree of violence or threat of violence and the other particulars of the offence is deemed, when assessed as a whole, to have been committed under mitigating circumstances. The elements of rape under the Criminal Code include the requirement that a person forces another person into sexual intercourse by the use or threat of violence, and the Court affirmed that a breach of the victim’s right of self-determination is central to this requirement. The Court held that A had resisted X’s actions but had been coerced into sexual intercourse by X through the use of violence and the resulting fear and helplessness that A experienced. The Court further held that the fact that a victim ceases to resist, physically or verbally, an offender’s approaches cannot be interpreted as inferred consent to sexual intercourse by the victim. More specifically, the Court stated that even if the offender assumed that the victim had changed her mind, this does not remove intent on the part of the offender absent such change of mind being clearly expressed by the victim. The Court held that A’s handing over the condom, under the circumstances that this event took place, did not constitute such expression of a change of mind. Therefore, the Supreme Court held that there was sufficient evidence to prove X guilty of coercion into sexual intercourse. X was sentenced to 10 months of probation and to pay damages to A.
  • KKO 2011:1, Finland, Supreme Court, 2011.
    The issue here was whether violation of official duty of a doctor was considered sexual abuse under the Finnish Criminal Code (39/1889, as amended) (the "Criminal Code"). A was the working doctor when B went for a breast ultrasonography. A had touched B's breast with bare hands and complemented her on her breasts. A had also massaged gel on the breasts with his hands and several times touched B's breasts. A had also, after getting permission from B, suckled the breasts in order to get excretion. The District Court and the Court of Appeal held that the procedure was not appropriate but did not amount to sexual abuse. The questionbefore the Supreme Court was whether the procedure had a sexual purpose.  According to  Chapter 20 Section 5(1) of the Criminal Code, a person who abuses his or her position and entices another into engaging in sexual intercourse or another sexual act or submitting to such an act should be sentenced for sexual abuse. The Court held that the procedures that A performed deviated from established and medically recommended practice. As a whole the procedure was done in a way that strongly indicated the purpose of sexual arousal or satisfaction. The fact that B had reacted only afterwards was not significant. The Court held that doctor and patient are not in an equal position and the fact that a patient agrees to a medical examination does not imply that the patient would give up her sexual self-determination. The Court saw that A had misused his position as a doctor and found A guilty of sexual abuse and violation of an official duty in accordance with Chapter 40 Section 9(1) of the Criminal Code. The Court found that this was only a single incident towards a consenting adult and sentenced A to pay 80 days-fine and damages to B of 1,200 Euros.
  • KKO 2010:1, Finland, Supreme Court, 2010.
    The issue here was whether A, the CEO of a company for which the victims worked, was guilty of sexual abuse, of a work safety offense, and of employment discrimination. A had performed sexual acts on his subordinates while they were resting in the break room. These acts included touching intimate parts such as breasts and bottom. The District Court and the Court of Appeal held A guilty of these charges, and A appealed to the Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court considered whether the public prosecutor had a cause of action given that the injured party had not reported the offense within the statute of limitations period.  According to Chapter 20 Section 11 of the Finnish Criminal Code (39/1889, as amended) (the "Criminal Code"), the public prosecutor may not bring charges for the offenses referred to in Sections 3 or 4 or Section 5(1)(2) or 5(1)(4), unless the injured party reports the offense for the bringing of charges or unless a very important public interest requires that charges be brought.The Court held that since A was the victim's supervisor, important public interest required the case to be brought to court by the prosecutor. Turning to the merits of the case, the Court found that A had abused his position in violation of Chapter 20 Section 5(1) of the Criminal Code.  It therefore held A guilty of sexual abuse towards B, C, D and E.  In addition, the Court upheld A's convictions for a work safety offense under Chapter 47 Section 1(1) of the Criminal Code and Section 27 of the Finnish Occupational Safety and Health Act (738/2002, as amended).  Finally, the Court upheld A's conviction for employment discrimination in violation of Section 8(2)(4) of the  Finnish Equality Act (609/1986, as amended), in accordance with Chapter 47 Section 3(1) of the Criminal Code.
  • KKO 2010:74, Finland, Supreme Court, 2010.
    The issue here was whether the crime of discrimination, as set forth in Section 9 (currently Section 11) of Chapter 11 of the Finnish Criminal Code (39/1889, as amended) (the “Criminal Code”), could be committed in connection with the practice of religion by way of a refusal to participate in public worship with a female priest. In the case, A, a male priest and a member of a traditionalist evangelist association that was against women serving as pastors, was invited by B, the chairman of the local chapter of this association, to preach at a parish church. C, a female priest, had been scheduled to participate in the worship by assisting in the communion. Prior to the commencement of the worship, A and B had announced to C that, because of their conviction, C could not join A in the worship, after which C had left the church. In its ruling, the Supreme Court noted that Section 11 of the Finnish Constitution (731/1999, as amended) sets forth that everyone has the right to freedom of religion and conscience. The Court, however, clarified that this right is not absolute and that one cannot plead this right to justify actions that violate human dignity or other basic human rights or that are against the principles of the Finnish legal system. The Court further noted that, under the Finnish fundamental rights system, the prevention of discrimination can justify limiting the rights of the autonomous authority of religious organizations and their right to determine the methods of practicing religion. The same reason, prevention of discrimination, is also a justifiable reason to limit the rights of an individual in connection with the practice of religion. On this basis, the Court held that the elements of the crime of discrimination are generally applicable and do not exclude discrimination based on gender or discrimination that takes place within a parish in connection with the practice of religion. The Court also found that the elements of the crime, including a person having, without a justified reason, in the arrangement of a public function placed someone in a clearly unequal or otherwise essentially inferior position owing to his or her gender, were present in the case. Therefore, A was sentenced to pay 20 days-fine. While it found B also guilty, due to B’s level of guilt being determined to be lower than that of A as well as because of certain mitigating circumstances, the Court decided to waive the punishment of B.
  • HelHo 2009:10, Finland, Court of Appeal of Helsinki, 2009.
    The issue here was whether a representative of an employer can be guilty of work discrimination, as set forth in Section 3 of Chapter 47 of the Finnish Criminal Code (39/1889, as amended) (the “Criminal Code”), by temporarily laying off an employee on the employee’s return from family leaves, and whether a justifiable cause for such discrimination existed in the case. In the case, B, who had been working at a company since 1998, had been on a two-year maternity leave between 2004 and 2006 and on a subsequent nursing leave after the maternity leave ended. During these family leaves, the company had, initially temporarily and subsequently on a permanent basis, employed C to carry out tasks that B had been responsible for before the family leaves. Upon her return to work in early 2007, B was temporarily laid off by A, the CEO of the company. A claimed that the work that C had been tasked with doing had changed while B was on the family leaves and that B could therefore not return to her old position. A further stated that the company was not able to offer B another position due to the company’s financial difficulties, and more specifically, that the company was not able to simultaneously employ both B and C. According to the Criminal Code, an employer, or a representative of the employer, that during employment without an important and justifiable reason puts an employee in an inferior position because of the employee’s gender, is guilty of criminal work discrimination. The Court of Appeal held that B had under the Finnish Employment Act (55/2011, as amended) the right to return to her old position after her family leaves ended or, if this was not possible, be offered other work in accordance with her employment contract. The Court further held, in accordance with A’s own statement, that the company could have trained B for the new type of work within only a brief period of time and, therefore, that laying off B and continuing to employ B’s substitute C (that had been made a permanent employee just before B’s return) was based on B’s gender and her family leaves. Due to these reasons, and despite the company’s financial difficulties, the Court held that there was no justifiable reason for the discrimination and, therefore, found A guilty of criminal employment discrimination. A was sentenced to pay 30 days-fine and damages to B of 1,200 Euros.
  • HelHo 2009:3420, Finland, Court of Appeal of Helsinki, 2009.
    The issue here was whether defendants Lepp and Taning were guilty of trafficking in persons. Lepp and Taning had jointly solicited A to come with them from Tallinn to Helsinki, where they had lodged her and, profiting from her insecure position and dependence, had subjected her to sexual abuse by prostitution for the purpose of gaining financial profit for themselves. The District Court of Helsinki found that the activities of the defendants did not amount to human trafficking under the Finnish Criminal Code (39/1889, as amended).  The Court of Appeal reversed.  To establish the crime of trafficking in human beings under Chapter 25, Section 3 of the Criminal Court, the State must establish the means, methods, and purpose of trafficking. The Court of Appeal concluded that it was undisputed that the purpose of the defendants was to subject A to sexual abuse and prostitution (for payment) in Finland. In terms of methods, the Court of Appeal concluded, inter alia, that Lepp and Taning had solicited, by giving a phone call to A, A to activities in purposes of earning money through prostitution. Finally, the Court of Appeal concluded that A's childhood experiences and personal characteristics made her vulnerable to activities that are harmful to her.  Considering A's lack of foreign language skills, the fact that she had got into debt in Estonia, lack of means due to her mental characteristics, the Court found that she had no other choice than to continue prostitution under these circumstances. Therefore, she had been defenseless when she was acting as a prostitute, and she was dependant on Lepp and Taning, within the meaning of Chapter 25, Section 3 of the Criminal Code. Lepp and Taning were sentences to 1,5 years in prison for human trafficking and to pay damages of 4,000 Euros to A.
  • HelHO 2007:722, Finland, Court of Appeal of Helsinki, 2007.
    The issue here was whether defendants Ilves, Marttila, Zdanovits, Hilden, Maalinn, Traublum and Angelsctock were guilty of aggravated trafficking in human beings of a mentally handicapped person and of aggravated pandering. According to Chapter 25 Section 3 a of the Finnish Criminal Code (39/1889, as amended) (the "Criminal Code"), if, in trafficking in human beings, (i) violence, threats or deceitfulness is used instead of or in addition to the means referred to in section 3,(ii) grievous bodily harm, a serious illness or a state of mortal danger or comparable particularly grave suffering is intentionally or through gross negligence inflicted on another person, (iii) the offense has been committed against a child younger than 18 years of age or against a person whose capacity to defend himself or herself has been substantially diminished, or (iv) the offence has been committed within the framework of a criminal organization referred to in chapter 17, section 1a, subsection 4 and the offence is aggravated also when considered as whole, the offender shall be sentenced for aggravated trafficking in human beings to imprisonment for at least two years and at most ten years. Seemen had come to Finland from Estonia to work as a prostitute. According to doctor's testimony, she was mentally handicapped. The Court concluded, in the light of the evidence presented, that Seemen had been threatened by violence and her freedom had been restricted by the defendants. The elements of trafficking were present as a whole when taking into account the intensiveness of the submission, even though Seemen might still have had her passport or key to the apartment. The Court of Appeal considered that the defendants were guilty of aggravated trafficking in human beings. Seemen, who was mentally handicapped, had been deceived and mislead into working as a prostitute in Finland. The court dismissed the claims of aggravated trafficking in human beings against Marttila and Hilden on grounds that they could not have been seen in having such a close connection with Seemen even though they were belonged to a criminal organization responsible for pandering. The Court also held that Angelstock was guilty only of abetting aggravated trafficking in human beings. According to Chapter 20 Section 9a(1) of the Criminal Code if, in pandering, (i) considerable financial benefit is sought, (ii) the offense is committed in a particularly methodical manner, and the offense is aggravated also when assessed as a whole, the offender shall be sentenced for aggravated pandering to imprisonment for at least four months and at most six years. According to the Finnish government proposal (34/2004), for the Criminal Code, "considerable financial benefit" would meant cases where the benefit is larger than on average. The Court decided that Ilves, Marttila, Zdanovits, Hilden, Malinn and Traublum were guilty of aggravated pandering. They were ordered to forfeit the proceeds of the crime and to pay damages to Seemen.
  • VaaHO:2006:16, Finland, Court of Appeal of Vaasa, 2006.
    The issue here was whether a partner's experience of domestic violence during her former relationships could be seen as a mitigating circumstance in connection with the partner's manslaughter of her new partner. A (female) had killed B (male) by making a deadly strike with a kitchen knife. Before the strike A had flailed the knife in a way which caused several marks on B's body. A and B were arguing on the night of the stabbing. A claimed that B had never before been violent towards A, but in A's former relationships A had experienced domestic violence. The District Court found that the fact that there was a plastic bag behind the living room sofa containing knives collected from the house could suggest that there was a threat of violence. It found that there were some indications of justifiable defense and sentenced A to prison for 8 years 6 months for manslaughter. The Court of Appeal held that B had attacked A unlawfully, causing A the need for self-defense. However, it found that the use of a knife in the situation was not justifiable, as A did not receive any grave wounds except for bruises. The Court found that A was guilty of excessive self-defense. According to Chapter 20 Section 3 of the Finnish Criminal Code (39/1889, as amended) (the "Criminal Code"), if the manslaughter, in view of the exceptional circumstances of the offense, the motives of the offender or other related circumstances, when assessed as a whole, is to be deemed committed under mitigating circumstances, the offender shall be sentenced for killing to imprisonment for at least four and at most ten years. The Finnish government proposal (94/1993) for the Criminal Code states that these kind of exceptional circumstances can be present when a wife has been constantly terrorized with violence by her husband and she kills him. The Court held that A had a traumatic background and had experienced domestic violence but that there had not been, according to A, any previous violence by B towards A. The Court did not consider this an exceptional circumstance. A was sentenced to five years in prison for manslaughter committed as excessive self-defense.
  • KHO 2005:87, Finland, Supreme Administrative Court, 2005.
    The issue here was whether A should get a residence permit to Finland because of family ties. He had entered into marriage with his cousin B in Syria in 2004 who was 15 years old at the time and had lived in Finland since 1996. The Directorate of Immigration (now Finnish Immigration Service) denied A's application for residence permit. According to Section 114(1) of the Finnish Aliens Act (301/2004, as amended) (the "Aliens Act"), a residence permit is issued on the basis of family ties to a family member of a refugee or an alien who has been issued with a residence permit on the basis of the need for subsidiary protection or humanitarian protection, or who has enjoyed temporary protection if: (i) the sponsor lives in Finland or has been issued with a residence permit for the purpose of moving to Finland; and (ii) the applicant is not considered a danger to public order, security or health. According to Section 4 of the Finnish Marriage Act (234/1929, as amended) (the "Marriage Act"), (i) a person under 18 years of age shall not marry, (ii) The Ministry of Justice may, however, for special reasons grant a person under 18 years of age a dispensation to marry. Before the matter is decided, the custodian of the applicant shall be reserved an opportunity to be heard if his or her whereabouts can be determined with reasonable measures. The Directorate of Immigration considered that the marriage was against Finnish law and not valid. Hence A could not be considered a family member in accordance with the Aliens Act.  The Administrative Court reversed the Directorate of Immigration's decision.  It held that the marriage was made under Syrian law and the fact that B was under age according to the Finnish law did not matter in this case. Also taking into account the religion, culture and traditions of B and her family, the Court found that issuing permit of residence would not be against the interest of the child. On appeal from the decision of the Administrative Court, the Supreme Administrative Court concluded that the fact that some countries allow underage marriages does not mean that such marriages can be the basis for a residence permit in the same way as are marriages between consenting adults. Although Section 115(1) of the Marriage Act generally recognizes the validity of marriages concluded in other countries, the law contains an exception where the application of a foreign provision would have an outcome contrary to Finnish public policy (ordre public (Section 139 (2) of the Marriage Act). Taking into account Article 1(1) of the Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age For Marriage, and Registration of Marriages; Article 23(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); and Article 16(1)(6) and (2) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Court held that it was not possible to use culture to justify marrying B to a person whom she is claimed to have met when she was a small child and taking her into a country where she does not have any family ties. Marrying a child and applying for permit of residence on the basis of this marriage can be seen as intention to evade the provision on entry into or residence in the country (Section 36(2) of the Aliens Act). On these grounds, the Supreme Administrative Court held that the decision of the Administrative Court would be revised and the decision of the Directorate of Immigration would be enforced.
  • KKO 2004:60, Finland, Supreme Court, 2004.
    The issue was whether the victim pointing out the rapist was sufficient evidence to hold someone guilty, taking into account the circumstances at the time of recognition. B was coming home late at night from a restaurant. On the way home B was raped. After the incident B tried to find the rapist. B met a friend C who happened to be in the companion of A. B recognized A as the rapist. All the parties where intoxicated at the time. A left the scene immediately when B started accusing A. There was not enough DNA evidence to be found to determine the identity of the rapist. At the District Court hearing B recognized A as the perpetrator. A pleaded not guilty but the District Court and later the Court of Appeal sentenced A to 1 year and 10 months prison for rape. The question in front of the Supreme Court was whether B pointing out A as the perpetrator was enough evidence to hold A guilty. The Court had no doubt that B was raped. The Supreme Court held that there were uncertainties including the parties' intoxication and the fact that B after identifying A reinforced the characteristics of the perpetrator. This could indicate that these were more observations about A and not about the actual rapist. B's recognition could not be held as the only evidence proving A guilty since it could not be seen as reliable. Also the Court held that according to the new witnesses D and E and the testimony by C, A could not possibly have had the time to reach the crime scene and back to where A was reported been seen. The court held that B's recognition could not be held as reliable evidence and the fact that A left as soon as B pointed out him as the perpetrator could not be seen as evidence proving A's guilt. According to the Supreme Court the evidence was not sufficient to prove A guilty. The charges were dismissed. Reliability of evidence is regulated under Finnish law pursuant to Chapter 17 Section 2(1) of the Finnish Code of Judicial Procedure (4/1734, as amended) (the "Code of Judicial Procedure"). The Code of Judicial Procedure provides that after having carefully evaluated all the facts that have been presented, the court shall decide what is to be regarded as the truth in the case. The court shall evaluate the evidence by: (i) deliberating the value of the evidence and (ii) resolving whether the presented evidence is sufficient. The court practices free deliberation which is limited by the need for careful evaluation and the fact that the assessment has to be grounded on objective criteria. The judge uses his/hers empirical rule and additional facts on the evidence evaluation. In criminal cases the burden of proof is on the prosecution and the plaintiff (Chapter 17 Section 1(2) of the Code of Judicial Procedure).
  • KKO 2003:76, Finland, Supreme Court, 2003.
    The issue was whether plaintiff was entitled to compensation for anguish in connection with intimate partner violence. A (male) had assaulted E (female) in E's home and on the staircase in a way that caused brain injury and severe traumatic stress. The District Court and the Court of Appeal sentenced A for an aggravated assault and ordered A to pay damages for pain and suffering for 20,000 Finnish marks. The Courts rejected demands for compensation on anguish. The question before the Supreme Court was about the amount of damages and if E was entitled to damages arising from anguish. The Supreme Court evaluated the pain and suffering as a whole and ordered A to pay 14,000 Euros of damages. In court practice (rulings KKO 1989:141 and KKO 1999:102) an assault has not been held as an act that justifies damages on mental anguish. According to Chapter 5 Section 6 of the Finnish Tort Liability Act (412/1974, as amended) (the "Tort Liability Act"), the provisions of the Tort Liability Act on personal injury apply also to damages for the anguish arising from an offense against liberty, honour or the domestic peace or from another comparable offense. The Court held that since A broke into E's apartment, E was entitled to damages arising from offense against domestic peace which could be seen causing anguish. The Court ruled that A had to pay damages for anguish in the amount of 500 Euros.
  • KKO 1995:152, Finland, Supreme Court, 1995.
    The issue here was whether the employer was allowed to lay off an employee returning from maternity leave due to a change of duties. During Ms. Mari Karjanoja's maternity and parental leave, her duties as a product manager had changed as a result of the company restructuring, and the employment relationship of her substitute, Ms. Tuulia Pärkö, had been made permanent. When Ms. Karjanoja returned from maternity leave, she was not offered back her duties as a product manager as the employer regarded Ms. Pärkö to be better qualified to take care of such duties in the changed situation. Later, for financial and production related grounds, the employer laid off Ms. Karjanoja.  Section 34 h of the Old Finnish Employment Contracts Act (320/1970, as amended) (the "Old Employment Contracts Act") prevented the displacement of an employee returning from maternity and parental leave on the basis that a substitute to the employee would be able to carry out the work duties better than the employee. Therefore, the Supreme Court considered that the employer should have offered Ms. Karjanoja the changed work duties of the product manager which were comparable to her previous duties. Since the ground of Ms. Karjanoja's termination was the employer acting against Section 34 h of the above-mentioned Old Employment Contracts Act, the employer did not have sufficient grounds for the termination. On these grounds, the Supreme Court, upholding the decisions of the District Court and the Court of Appeal, ordered the employer to pay damages to Ms. Karjanoja.
  • KKO 1992:7, Finland, Supreme Court, 1992.
    The issue here was whether the employer company was guilty of discrimination in working life. Marja-Liisa Laukkanen had been working at Oy Kolmeks Ab. During her four months trial period, she got pregnant on which she informed her employer. Soon after that, she was dismissed on the grounds that she was on her trial period. Ms. Laukkanen claimed that her pregnancy was the ground for the dismissal which was against Section 8 of the Finnish Equality Act (609/1986, as amended) (the "Equality Act") on the basis of discrimination in work life.  In addition, Ms. Laukkanen claimed that the dismissal was against Section 3 of the Old Finnish Employment Contracts Act (320/1970, as amended) (the "Old Employment Contracts Act"), which states that employment cannot be revoked on inappropriate grounds. The District Court ruled against Ms. Laaukkanen but the Court of Appeals reversed.  It held that the dismissal of Marja-Liisa Laukkanen was against both the Old Employment Contracts Act and the Equality Act and ordered the company to pay damages. The grounds for the Court of Appeals' decision were that, when the employer and Ms. Laukkanen had negotiated on the employment, the employer had had significant interest on the fact if Laukkanen was planning to get pregnant. Further, the company had not been able to prove that Ms. Laukkanen had started neglecting her work duties as soon as she had found out about her pregnancy. The Supreme Court agreed with the opinion of the Court of Appeals and held that the dismissal violated Section 3 of the Old Employment Contracts Act. However, it did not consider the dismissal to be against the Equality Act because, according to the government proposal (57/1985) for the Equality Act, discrimination in working life only means discrimination based on the gender and, therefore, gender has to be the immediate reason behind the dismissal.
  • KKO 1991:14, Finland, Supreme Court, 1991.
    The issue here was whether the Finnish State was guilty of 4 in selecting an applicant for a job. Ms. Risse Serén claimed that she was more qualified for the position of the head of the office at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry than Mr. Paavo Mäkinen, who had been selected for the position. She claimed that she had been discriminated during the application process because of her gender. According to Section 8 of the Finnish Equality Act (609/1986, as amended) (the "Equality Act"), an action of an employer is deemed to constitute discrimination if, inter alia, the employer selects a less qualified person of the opposite sex for the position unless there is a justifiable reason for such selection other than the applicant's gender or the selection was based on weighty and acceptable ground related to the job or the task. The District Court evaluated the assessment of education, work experience, and other qualifications of the both applicants prepared by the Ombudsman for Equality and concluded that Ms. Serén was more qualified for the position. Since the state of Finland did not show that there were any acceptable reasons described in the Equality Act, the District Court ordered the state pay damages to Ms. Serén for the discrimination. The Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the District Court.