Russian Law on Discrimination in Employment: Can it be Compatible with International Labor Standards?
Law concerning discrimination in employment in Russia was expected to undergo a serious transformation after the fall of the Soviet system, when the Iron Curtain was lifted and the country became more open to Western legal concepts and international law. Nevertheless, most existing anti-discrimination norms in Russian law are based on the traditional concept of “uniformity and differentiation in regulation of labor” that is ill-suited to meet the challenges of a market economy and the emergence of employment by privately owned enterprises which may have greater motivation to discriminate than state-owned-enterprises. The aim of the author is not to present an encyclopedic overview of all aspects of the topic of discrimination, but rather to concentrate on the most significant areas in which Russian law and practices diverge from international labor standards. To do so, this article analyzes current Russian legislation and landmark cases concerning gender, disability, age and some other areas of discrimination in employment with respect to their effectiveness and conformity to international labor standards on the matter. The issues of a clear definition of discrimination in employment, of protection from indirect discrimination, and of alleviation from the burden of proof are also examined. The author concludes this work by offering the reader several suggestions about how to harmonize Russian domestic law on employment discrimination with international labor standards while giving due respect to national legal and societal traditions and the current economic environment.