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Ombudsperson approached over requirement for Vilnius district officials to speak Polish

Aušrinė Burneikienė
Redo Vilimo/BFL nuotr. / Aušrinė Burneikienė
Šaltinis: BNS

Arminas Lydeka, chairman of the parliamentary Human Rights Committee, has approached the Office of Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson with a request to look into validity of the requirement for new financial officers of Vilnius district municipality to speak Polish.

Ombudswoman Aušrinė Burneikienė said the office will look into the case.

Lydeka, member of the ruling Liberal Movement, said the requirement could “run counter to the principle of equality."

"As stipulated in the job description published by Vilnius district municipality, the accountant would be responsible for accounting operations. As we know, state documents are written in Lithuanian. Consequently, the attempts by the municipality to search for employees who could speak Polish raise reasonable doubts whether this institution funded by the state is offering exclusive conditions for certain nationals," Lydeka said in a communiqué.

He also urged the Public Service Department to examine whether the municipality's leadership did not abuse its powers and guaranteed equal employment opportunities for all applicants.

According to the press release, Vilnius district municipality has already indicated an analogous requirement to speak Polish a few years ago. The equal opportunities ombudsman then found that the requirement was discriminatory.

Vilnius district has a population of about 100,000 residents, 61 percent Polish-speaking.

Ombudswoman will look into it

Lithuania's Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson Aušrinė Burneikienė has pledged to look into the reports.

"Without doubt, we will initiate an investigation. I believe the probe will be opened tomorrow morning," Burneikienė told BNS on Wednesday.

"The information is yet to be checked (…). But the information I have is that it has to do with positions of chief accountant and construction specialist. We should carefully look at these job descriptions, whether the requirement can be validated as fair or necessary for the job. (…) The Polish language should not be the main or decisive factor in getting the job," she said.

In her words, command of the Polish language could be validated as an additional requirement, if the employee had to work at the client service division. Burneikienė said a similar case at Vilnius district municipality had already been examined in 2008.

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