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Accueil > Lettonie > Statut juridique des religions > Dispositions spécifiques > Travail > Droit du travail au sein des communautés religieuses

Droit du travail au sein des communautés religieuses

Discrimination based on religion is prohibited in Latvia. In paragraph 9 of the Constitution of Latvia (Satversme), one can find the following : all persons in Latvia are equal before the law and the courts. Human rights shall be implemented without any discrimination. In 1997, when the commission of Saeima was preparing the chapter 8 of Satversme, discussion arose while trying to establish the list of prohibited criteria of discrimination concerning two of these criteria. Religion caused no difficulty. However, since consensus was not reached as regards "age" or "sexual orientation", decision was taken to omit these criteria in the Constitution.
The legislative body finally prohibited on constitutional level discrimination according to race, nationality, gender, age, political party affiliation, political belief, religion, worldview, social status, financial status and legal status.
The Latvian Law on religious organisations (Article 4) also prohibits discrimination based on religious belief. The Law states that explicit or implicit restrictions of the right of inhabitants, creation of privileges, infringement of feelings or instigation of hatred due to religious choice, are all to be prohibited. Persons guilty of violating this provision shall be held liable in accordance with the procedure prescribed by law. According to the previously mentioned article of the Law on religious organisations, no reference shall be made to a person’s attitude to religion or his/her religious affiliation in the identification documents issued by the State. Government and municipal authorities, non-governmental organisations, companies and business associations shall be forbidden to demand information from their staff or other persons concerning their attitude to religion or their religious affiliation.
The employment relationship is mentioned only twice in the Law on religious organisations. First, Article 19 of the Law provides that in case of termination of a religious organisation’s activity, this organisation terminates its work relationship with all its employees in accordance with the Latvian labour Law. Secondly, Article 14 sets out that religious organisations can appoint or elect and dismiss their ministers in accordance with its own statutes, and employ and dismiss other employees in accordance with the applicable labour legislation. The current Latvian Labour law does not address the particular problems of religious organisations, which means that religious organisations are subject to the same legal rules as any other public or commercial companies.
Article 7(2) of the Labour law of 20 June 2001 contains a prohibition of any direct or indirect discrimination based on a person’s race, skin colour, gender, age, religious, and political or other conviction. The Article 29 of the Labour law stipulates "prohibition of differential treatment" barring differential treatment from an employer towards an employee based on race, skin colour, age, disability, political or other convictions, national or social origin, property or marital status and religious conviction. In the same article, it is furthermore prescribed that differential treatment based on the religion of an employee is permitted only in cases where adherence to particular religion is an objective and justified precondition for performance of the relevant work or for the relevant employment. Likewise the said Law sets out (Article 33(2) 4)) that a job interview may not include questions that do not apply to performance of the intended work or are not related to the suitability of the employee for such work, nor any directly or indirectly discriminatory questions. The category of discriminatory questions includes questions concerning "religious conviction or membership of a religious denomination". Article 34(1) of the Labour Law prescribes that when establishing an employment relationships, if an employer has violated the prohibition of differential treatment, an applicant has the right to request appropriate compensation. In case of dispute, the amount of compensation is to be determined by the court at its discretion.

Lutheran Church Law
Paragraph 13. Relations of the Church and its employees and clergymen
(1) In the process of forming labour relations, maintaining and changing them or terminating employment, the Church is competent to act on the basis of a person’s religious beliefs, commitment and loyalty to the teachings and beliefs (doctrines) of the Church, as well as moral, behavioural norms and principles and ideals (ethos) of the Church.
(2) A clergyman is appointed to the place of service and absolved from service by the head of the Church on the basis of the Constitution of the Church. Order of the head of Church is the only basis of initiation, modification and exemption of a clergyman’s service.

Orthodox Church Law
14. Paragraph. Relations of the Church to its employees and clergy
(1) In the process of forming labour relations, maintaining and changing them or terminating employment, the Church is competent to act on the basis of a person’s religious beliefs, commitment and loyalty to the teachings and beliefs (doctrines) of the Church, as well as moral, behavioural norms and principles and ideals (ethos) of the Church, which are based on Orthodox beliefs.
(2) Clergyman is appointed to the place of service and absolved from service by the head of the Church on the basis of the Constitution of the Church. Order of the head of Church is the only basis of initiation, modification and exemption of a clergyman’s service.

Methodist Special Laws
Section 11. Relations of the Church and its employees
When forming labour relations, maintaining them or terminating employment, the Church shall possess the right to take into account a person’s religious affiliation, commitment and capacity to act in accordance with the teachings and beliefs (doctrines) of the Church, as well as moral and behavioural norms, principles and ideals of the person in relation to the religious beliefs of the United Methodist Church.

Agreement between the Republic of Latvia and the Holy See
Article 1
The Republic of Latvia and the Holy See recognize that they are both, within their proper spheres of competence, independent and autonomous. They reaffirm their respect for this principle with regard to the services by which each party, both individually and jointly, intends to promote the greater spiritual and material development of Latvian society.
Article 4
As regards freedom of religion, sanctioned by the legislation of the Republic of Latvia and the international agreements to which the Republic of Latvia has adhered, the Catholic Church in the Republic of Latvia, together with its communities and institutions, shall be guaranteed freedom to determine its internal government, to worship and to accomplish its mission through pastoral activities, including those of a social, educational and cultural nature.
Article 5
The nomination, transfer and removal of Bishops is the exclusive right of the Holy See. The office of Bishop shall be conferred only on priests who are Latvian citizens. Before the publication of the appointment of a diocesan Bishop, the Holy See will, out of courtesy and in confidence, inform the President of the Republic of Latvia.
Article 19
1. Catholic Schools are entitled to financial support, in accordance with the laws of the Republic of Latvia.
2. Teachers and other employees in officially recognised Catholic Schools, as well as students and their parents, shall enjoy the same rights and have the same obligations as their counterparts in State and local government schools.

For futher information, see BALODIS Ringolds, "Law and religion in the workplace in Latvia” in RODRÍGUEZ BLANCO Miguel (ed.), Law and religion in the workplace, Proceedings of the XXVIIth annual conference of the European Consortium for Church and State Research, Alcalá de Henares, 12-15 November 2015, Granada, Comares, December 2016, p. 253-264.

27 septembre 2012