What happens with your report?

Unia fights discrimination and promotes equal opportunity. We are an independent public institution. One of our most important responsibilities is processing individual reports of discrimination, a service we provide free of charge and in full confidentiality. 

Unia analyses your report

We will first determine whether Unia is authorised to process your report. If this is not the case, we will refer you to the proper specialised organisation.

Do you need general information? Then we will get the right information to you as soon as possible. About the antidiscrimination laws, for example, or related to the scope of Unia’s authority.

Are you reporting discrimination, hate speech or a hate crime? Then together with you, we will gather the necessary information to potentially follow-up your case. We will consider your concrete expectations and explain your possible further steps.

We encourage you to save all evidence (e-mails, Facebook or text messages, witness testimonials, photos, screenshots, …) and any kind of information that could be important for supporting your case.

If you have been the victim of violence, we recommend that you file a complaint with the police, and if necessary, see a doctor to obtain a medical certificate, as well. Reporting the incident to Unia can in no way take the place of filing a complaint with the police or the courts. 

More in-depth investigation

Once Unia has opened a case, we will investigate your report in greater detail. We will ask you to provide as much additional information about your case as possible, and to keep us informed of the steps that you have already taken.

We will then offer you advice about the situation about which you contacted us. If we suspect that, in the eyes of the law, it is effectively a case of discrimination or a hate crime, we will present your various options.

Please note: although some situations may feel unfair, this does not always mean that they constitute a legal violation according to the Antidiscrimination law . Unia works within a strict legal framework. We can only act within this legal framework, even though certain personal situations may be painful or shocking.  

What are the possible steps?

Negotiation and reconciliation:

Unia always prefers this type of solution for a conflict. We will resort to legal action only very exceptionally (in 1% of the cases). First and foremost, Unia listens to all parties involved, and we inform them about the legal aspects. Through dialogue, we try to find a solution that is acceptable to all parties. We prefer to find solutions on the long-term that address the harm experienced by the person reporting the problem as well as preventing similar situations from re-occurring in the future.

Legal action

Only when the violations are particularly egregious, when dialogue has proved impossible or when the legislation is not clear, will Unia take legal action. This is done only rarely and never without the victim's consent.

Unia can thus take legal action or file (civil and/or criminal) charges. We can also advise in court proceedings without being officially involved in the case.

Other options:

Unia will consider other options as well, depending on the situation and the expectations of the person reporting:

  • We will send a warning or a reminder of the law to the person or organisation being reported.
  • We will contact the person being reported or the organisation who has authority over that person, requesting that they enforce compliance with the law.
  • We will provide an official recommendation to the authorities involved.
  • We will refer the case to a local or specialised partner (trade unions, specialised organisations, social inspection authorities, press council, …

Unia will never take any action without your permission.  

What Unia does not do

Unia is not a court: the recommendations issued by Unia are non-binding, although Unia’s expertise is widely recognised.

Unia is not a social service that assists people with administrative processes. However, in certain cases we can refer clients to specialised social and/or legal services.

Unia is not a law firm: the legal specialists who work for Unia can advise you and provide you with (free) support for any steps that you take. However, they are not lawyers and therefore are not authorised to represent you in court.

Unia is authorised to deal only with the grounds for discrimination that are described in the Antidiscrimination law. Therefore, we are not authorised to address discrimination that is based on language or sex. The Institute for the Equality of Women and Men has competency for sex and gender related issues. 

Attention: Unia does not process some reports, especially those that are anonymous. Read our criteria for the admissibility of a report here.

Our basic principles

  • Independence: we fulfil our responsibilities with total independence, which is guaranteed by the antidiscrimination laws and European directives.
  • Ethical principles: our labour regulations define respect, collaboration, responsibility and integrity as the core values that apply to all of our employees.
  • Respect for employees: we will not tolerate any form of aggressive behaviour, threatening attitudes, intimidation or provocation towards our employees.
  • Privacy: we endeavour to respect the privacy of all parties involved at all times.
  • Open governance: as an organisation, we place great importance in good governance and transparency, and in answering any questions about our work with respect for the application of privacy laws. In our annual report, our activities are detailed and illustrated through material such as statistics on the cases as well as other organisations and operational data.
  • In the case of dispute: our recommendations are never binding. If a client reporting an incident does not agree with our analysis, then he or she can always turn to a different organisation that may consider other/legal steps possible.