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Deal 5: Amston Director Henrika Bivainiene on Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson Claim

Deal 5: Amston Director Henrika Bivainiene on Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson Claim

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On March 11, 2020, CEE Legal Matters reported that Sorainen had successfully defended HR solutions provider Amston before the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson in Lithuania. We spoke with Henrika Bivainiene, Director of Amston, about the case.

CEELM: What is Amston?

Henrika: Amston is a leading strategic HR management solutions company, with talent recruitment at the heart of our business. Our people are dedicated experts, always passionate about delivering the best solutions across every stage of the employee lifecycle. I am a general manager of the company. 

CEELM: Tell us a bit about the proceedings. How long did the whole process last?

Henrika: We received an inquiry from the Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson of the Republic of Lithuania about the feedback that we gave to a candidate who we had presented to our client and who participated in the recruitment process. It was alleged that that feedback was discriminatory, although we provided more detailed feedback by phone, and we wrote by email that the candidate was rejected because of not being a cultural fit. When written by email this phrase seemed ambiguous. The most difficult thing was to understand that the feedback we wrote sounds ambiguous, but we were sure that what we had in mind was lack of fit with the team’s personal qualities and personality traits, and certainly we did not mean gender, race, age, religion, or other. Proving that the phrase was used for exactly what we meant seemed like a difficult task.  

CEELM: What was the preparation for the process like?

Henrika: We contacted Sorainen from the very moment we received the inquiry. We were asked to send all available information – the correspondence with the candidate, the job advertisement, etc., as well as telling the law firm what kind of questions we usually ask candidates during interviews, how we present candidates to our clients, and how we provide feedback. All of this was needed so that Sorainen could prepare the best answer to the inquiry and would have as many details as needed to defend our position. 

CEELM: What were the claimant's main arguments and what do you believe ultimately convinced the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson to reject the claim?

Henrika: It was alleged that because of us the candidate felt discriminated against because of her ethnicity, beliefs, or views. Zygimantas' team helped us find arguments that would convince the Ombudsperson of Equal Opportunities that there was no discrimination – one of these arguments was that the organizational culture is also a criterion by which a person can be chosen for a job or be rejected from the recruitment process. Zygimantas' team had the difficult task of representing our position since the feedback that was sent by email was indeed ambiguous, so it was necessary to explain how recruitment is done, what the process looks like, how businesses today choose their employees, and what criteria are essential. However, this was done perfectly well and the claim was rejected.

CEELM: Why did you retain Zygimantas Pacevicius and his team for help in this case?

Henrika: We had worked with Zygimantas previously. We are confident that he and Sorainen are a team of professionals who know their job really well and are dedicated, and not only react quickly, but find a solution in any situation and help clients to feel safe and calm.

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