Civil procedure

Generally, you can bring a civil case before a court, iIf you have been harmed by a private entity or an individual. Under Slovakian law, in discrimination disputes falling under the scope of the Antidiscrimination Act where the claimant is an individual, the procedure set in the Civil Adversarial Proceedings Code applies, disregarding whether a public or private entity is being sued.

This procedure also applies, if a public authority has discriminated against you in the context of a private law contract (such as an employment contract or a contract for the provision of goods or services). Every person who considers themselves wronged in their rights because the principle of equal treatment has not been applied may pursue their claims before the court either directly or if they fail with their complaints to special sectoral institutions (Labour Inspectorate, Trade Inspectorate etc.).

Content of the lawsuit

In your claim you should:

  • provide information that indicates that you believe discrimination (including the grounds) may have taken place (who, what, when, how)
  • name the legal provisions which have been violated
  • indicate the remedy or amount of the requested compensation
  • attach relevant documents that substantiate your opinion, if there are any

Procedure and time limits

In Slovakia, discrimination complaints under the civil procedure follow the provisions of the Anti-discrimination Act and the Civil Adversarial Proceedings Code, which involves a special part called “Disputes with Protection of a Weaker Party”. Here rules somewhat differ from the general rules of the Code with a view of mitigating the power imbalance between the parties. Disputes with protection of a weaker party involve consumer disputes, individual labour disputes and anti-discrimination disputes. The law stipulates that the procedural provisions contained in the Anti-discrimination Act, especially related to the burden of proof, take precedence over the Civil Proceedings Code.

Usually a civil claim should be submitted within three years after the event. However, in some specific fields there are special time limits for a discrimination complaint. Therefore it is important to find out the time limits for your claim and submit it as soon as possible.

example According to Slovak employment law, claims concerning a discriminatory dismissal have to be submitted within two months.

Court’s assessment

Under the special provisions related to anti-discrimination complaints, you as a complainant have the right to submit evidence until the decision on merits is delivered. You can be represented by a lawyer of the Slovak National Centre for Human Rights (free of charge) or by an NGO authorised to provide legal representations. In labour disputes you can be represented by trade unions. The court also has a broader duty to instruct you on your rights.  In antidiscrimination claims the principle of shifted burden of proof applies.

The court will first assess whether you have been discriminated against. When dealing with cases concerning discrimination, the court will be obliged to shift the burden of proof. This means, that you first need to provide the court with evidence that discrimination took place. The duty to provide this evidence is called the burden of proof. 

If the court thinks that the facts you have submitted give rise to a reasonable assumption that such violation has indeed occurred, it will conclude that you have been discriminated against unless your opponent (employer or service provider) can provide sufficient explanation for the way you have been treated. The burden of proof, that is the obligation to prove that actions are legal and justified, is then shifted to your opponent. This will usually mean that they have to show that the way in which you were treated had nothing to do with your characteristics (your sex, age, race, ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability etc.), or that there was a legitimate, objective and reasonable ground for differential treatment.

Compensation

The court may oblige your opponent to remedy the situation. It may order your opponent to cease the discrimination, reinstate you in your previous position or award you compensation. The compensation may include compensation for material (pecuniary) and moral (non-pecuniary) damages. The amount of compensation will be determined by the court.

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