AuthorTheodoridis, Athanasios
4.1 Genuine and determining occupational requirements (Article 4)
In Greece, national legislation provides for an exception for genuine and determining
occupational requirements.
Article 4(1) of Equal Treatment Law 4443/2016 introduces justified differential treatment
based on the protected grounds, which is also enshrined in common Article 4 of both EU
Directives. It reiterates that the differential treatment should be based on genuine and
determining occupational requirements and should satisfy a legitimate aim in a
proportionate manner.
There is no known caselaw related to this issue.
4.2 Employers with an ethos based on religion or belief (Article 4(2) Directive
In Greece, national law provides for an exception for employers with an ethos based on
religion or belief.
As regards occupational requirements, Article 4(2) of Equal Treatment Law 4443/2016
contains special provisions for professions related to churches, religious institutions and
public or private organisations. According to these provisions, the law does not affect the
right of public or private organisations whose ethos is based on religious or other beliefs
to demand that the people working for them act in compliance with that ethos. In these
cases, religion or belief compatible with such an ethos constitutes a genuine, legitimate
and justified occupational requirement. This means that the Orthodox Church, for example,
can discriminate against individuals who are homosexual or in a same-sex civil partnership
agreement, irrespective of the position held or for which an individual is applying for, since
their way of life is not ΡcompatibleΣ with the teachings of the Church.132
Article 4(2) also specifies that it does not affect provisions or policies already in existence
which relate to the occupational activities of churches or other organisations or
associations, the ethics of which are based on religious or other beliefs. This difference in
treatment is based on general principles of EU law and cannot justify discrimination based
on other protected grounds (i.e. those apart from religion and belief).133
- Religious institutions affecting employment in state-funded entities
In Greece, religious institutions are not permitted to select people (on the basis of their
religion), to hire them or to dismiss them from a job when that job is in a state entity or
in an entity financed (in whole or in part) by the state.
Moreover, according to well-established jurisprudence from the Greek Council of State,134
as a state entity of public law (Article 1(4) of Law 590/1977),135 the Orthodox Church of
Greece is obliged to respect the fundamental constitutional provisions which provide, inter
132 The Explanatory Report to Law 4443/2016 states that different treatment is justified due to specific
occupational requirements. In practice, however, the Church applies this approach irrespective of this
requirement to provide a justification linked to occupational requirements and contrary to ECJ case law,
specifically the cases of Egenberger and IR v. JQ.
133 This exception under Greek law does not appear to be compatible with EU law, especially in light of the
CJEUΣs Egenberger and IR v. JQ rulings of 2018. However, how to bring the provision into line with the
specific ruling is a matter of judicial interpretation.
134 The Council of State judged that local origin and religious beliefs do not constitute criteria for public sector
recruitment, countering the draft Presidential Decree concerning the recruitment of staff for the Panhellenic
Sacred Foundation of Evaggelistria of Tinos. See Eleftherotipia () (17.08.2007), available in
Greek at: www.enet.gr/online/online_text/c=112,dt=17.08.2007,id=26095400.
135 Law 590/1977 on the Statute of the Greek Church (OJ 146 A/31.05.1977).

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