No. 07-00-186/2017-02 Date: 12 October 2017
The present opinion was issued following a complaint procedure initiated upon a complaint lodged by M.M. from N. against public utility company “Z” and its Managing Director A.B. on account of discrimination on the grounds of membership in an association. In her complaint, the complainant stated that she was a member of “HMM” Association from N. whose primary objective was the protection of animal wellbeing and that she had wanted to visit the animal shelter operated by public utility company “Z.” as she was interested in conditions abandoned dogs and cats were kept in. She had notified the Managing Director A.B. about her intention to visit the shelter by sending him an SMS, but he had replied that she needed to inform him of her intention to visit the shelter in writing. Despite having sent the notification in writing, on 16 March 2017 the complainant was prevented from entering the animal shelter. Public utility company “Z.” or rather Managing Director A.B. has not sent his declaration explaining his actions complained against in the submitted complaint, hence, when deciding on this matter, the only thing available to the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality were the allegations made in the complaint and evidence provided by the complainant. In the course of the complaint procedure it has been ascertained that the public utility company “Z.” has the obligation, when performing its regular work and activities, including those pertaining to animal shelter management, to abide by the Law on Wellbeing of Animals and the Decision on Performing Zoo-hygiene Activities of the City of N., both of which stipulate that a company dealing with the protection of animals shall cooperate with associations and citizens regarding the protection of life, health and wellbeing of animals. In addition, it has been ascertained that the official website of this public utility company offers no information whatsoever regarding animal shelter visitation rules and procedures, while two witnesses, whose statements were submitted by the complainant, and who are not members of “HMM” Association from N, have confirmed that they had previously visited the animal shelter on several occasions without any restrictions or obligation to announce their visit in advance. It has also been ascertained that the Managing Director of the public utility company “Z.” had said in his press statement to Blic daily newspaper that he was “on the same side with associations dealing with the protection of animals, but that some people are overdoing it, like his interlocutor” gesturing towards the complainant whom he “would personally prevent from entering the animal shelter”. Bearing in mind the above stated and based on the presented evidence, it has been ascertained that the treatment of the complainant by the public utility company “Z.” and its Managing Director A.B. had been based on her personal characteristic – membership in an association which had at one point in time criticized the work and actions of this public utility company. The Commissioner for the Protection of Equality issued its opinion stating that the public utility company “Z.” and its Managing Director A.B. have, by denying M.M. on 16 March 2017 access to the animal shelter managed by the public utility company “Z.” and by requesting her to announce her visit in writing, violated provisions of Article 6 and Article 17, Paragraph 2 of the Law on the Prohibition of Discrimination. A recommendation was issued to A.B., the Managing Director of the public utility company “Z.” to send an apology to complainant M.M. in writing within 15 days from receiving this opinion containing recommendation, to enable M.M. and other members of “HMM” Association from N. to access this animal shelter, in keeping with the law, and to refrain in the future from violating anti-discrimination regulations when performing its regular work and activities.
|COMMISSIONER FOR THE PROTECTION OF EQUALITY