10 years of General Equal Treatment Act

The General Equal Treatment Act transposed the European Union directives 2000/43/EG and 2000/78/EG into German law. In the spring of 2006, the draft bill under the title of ‘General Equal Treatment Act’ was published and presented in the Parliament (BT-Drs. 16/1780). The law was passed in July 2006 and came into force on the 18th of August 2006. Here you can read more about the history of the origins of the General Equal Treatment Act (AGG).

Since 2010, BUG has gained significant experience with the AGG by legally supporting people who filed complaints falling within the scope of the Act. Based on this, BUG published 'Proposals for amendments to the AGG' in March 2014.  These proposals were further developed in a publication of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, written by BUG’s honorary director. In the following, a few examples of those proposals which should be considered in the context of amending the Act will be explained.

The AGG is an anti-discrimination law. However, it has only spoken of 'unequal treatment' so far, in contrast to European and other international legislative texts where the term 'discrimination' is used. For that reason we propose that the term ‘discrimination’ is introduced to the wording of the law. Furthermore, the grounds that discriminations are based on should be clarified: 'old age' (German: Alter) should be replaced by 'any age' (German: Lebensalter), 'race' by 'racist reasons' and 'ethnic background' by 'ethnical ascription'. The terms 'language', 'social status', 'chronicle diseases' and 'genetic disposition' should be added as well.  Moreover, an explicit prohibition of 'multidimensional discrimination' should be incorporated in the text.

In regards to strengthening the legal protection, BUG recommends to introduce legal representative action as well as the right of collective actions.  The period for filing a lawsuit should be prolonged to 12 months and furthermore, the burden of proof should be reduced in the private sector through introducing the right to be informed. Respectively, a real shift in the burden of proof should be implemented when it comes to the public sector. The mandate of the Anti-Discrimination Agency should be expanded by providing the Agency with the right to inspect records. The agency should have the possibility to legally support lawsuits. Besides, it should be consulted concerning new legislative and regulatory enactments and other legal propositions.

Here you can find out more about the proposals to strengthen the AGG.

In spring 2017, BUG is planning to publish a second and revised version of the proposals for amending the AGG.

Furthermore, the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency of Germany has commissioned an evaluation report concerning the AGG which you can find here

The parliamentary party Alliance '90/The Greens has put forward a demand for a reform of the General Equal Treatment Act that you can access here. Similarly, the parliamentary party The Left has called for an amendment to the AGG in a demand, primarily advocating for the introduction of the right of associations to file lawsuits in case of discrimination.