Equality verdict

February 7, 2003

The University of Oslo has lost a legal challenge to positive discrimination policies that reserved postdoctorate and teaching posts for women.

Judges at the court of the European Free Trade Area ruled that the Norwegian government had a legal duty to suppress the policy under a European Union directive on equal treatment for men and women.

The directive requires equal treatment in employment, vocational training, promotion and working conditions.

The directive applies in Norway through its membership of the European Economic Area.

The case followed a complaint made in 2000 against the university's reservation of 20 postdoctoral positions for women, "to favour the recruitment of women to permanent scholarly positions".

Under the university's plan for equal treatment 2000-04, a further ten postdoctoral positions and 12 permanent scholarly positions were reserved for female academics.

The ruling sets a legal precedent in all EU and EEA countries, including Iceland and Liechtenstein.

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