Thursday 09 December 2021

Fire brigade not guilty of discrimination against ‘slower’ woman

The Gelderland fire brigade (VVGM) is not guilty of age or sex discrimination against a female volunteer, the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights has ruled.

The case was brought by volunteer Jorien Traas (53) who was dismissed after twice failing a fitness test which meant she had to climb 200 steps in two minutes while carrying equipment weighing 43 kilos.

Traas maintained that using the same criteria for men and women, as well as for young and older people, is discriminatory.

The VVGM denies discrimination and says the test is a stringent one but that both women and older people can do it. It is a minimum requirement to guarantee the safety of victims, colleagues and the environment, the VVGM said.

In its deliberations the institute conceded that by using one norm for all, the woman was ‘singled out’. Men and boys are able to do the test more quickly and that means that there is ‘indirect  discrimination’ on the grounds of sex and age.

However, the reasons cited by the VVGM – safety, reliance on others – supersede this, the institute said.

The institute dismissed as ‘irrelevant’ the fact that police and the armed forces do have norms that take sex and age into account.

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