Situation Testing


Awareness raising on Situation Testing methods.

MPG has co-published a handbook on Situation testing and is currently implementing a project on Situation Testing


  1. Handbook on Situation Testing
  2. Situation Testing Project


  • 1. Handbook on Situation Testing

The Handbook, 'Proving discrimination cases: the role of Situation Testing' has been jointly developed by MPG and the Swedish Centre for Equal Rights.

The publication provides an analysis of Situation Testing, with a comparative overview of its use in various cases in Europe and provides guidelines to the targets of discrimination and their organisations on conducting situation testing. 

It explains how cases have been adjudicated by the courts; examines the difficulties as well as the opportunities related to situation testing; and outlines the need for stringent and strategic application of the situation testing method.

  • 2. Situation Testing Project

The objective of the Situation Testing project is to raise awareness of the technique of situation testing, discuss the use of it in purposes other than litigation and conclude on the best way to expand its application to the public sector.

The project involves the participation of 3 countries: France, Belgium and Hungary, selected due to their wide experience on situation-testing, recognition by the courts as a means of evidence, and usage in various circumstances.

Two staff members from Equality Bodies and relevant NGOs from each country have been selected to participate in the project, based on their experience in situation testing or their active interest in conducting situation testing.

MPG has developed a questionnaire on the concerns Equality Bodies and NGOs have on situation testing and what they would like to see resolved at legislative and practical level.

The findings will be analysed, paying particular attention to alternative ways of using situation testing other than in litigation, the benefits, and how it can serve as a monitoring, awareness-raising and advocacy tool, for instance in order to uncover discrimination in access to health care and education, and racial/ethnic based prejudice in policing and immigration control.

Equality bodies and NGOs from all EU Member States will be invited to provide their input by completing this questionnaire, which will be available on-line for a limited number of days.

MPG will then prepare recommendations for the use of situation testing via two case studies and will develop, using the findings of the questionnaire, an Analytical Report on the practical use of situation testing, building on MPG’s recently published “Handbook on Situation Testing”, and draft Model Legislation.

These documents will be discussed during a meeting that will take place in Brussels in the autumn of 2009, where participants will have the opportunity to share knowledge and expertise and exchange good practices; after which these documents will be made public.

  • What is Situation Testing?

Situation testing is a method according to which pairs (of applicants for accommodation or a job vacancy or clients of a restaurant, a nightclub, etc.) are established in such a way that they differ solely on the basis of a single characteristic reflecting the discriminatory ground (gender, ethnicity, age, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation) under scrutiny. If one of the members of the pair faces different treatment, the distinction points to discriminatory behaviour. In other words, the method of testing means setting up a situation, a sort of role play, where a person is placed in a position where s/he may discriminate without suspecting that s/he is being observed. This person is presented with fictional “candidates”, some of whom possess a characteristic which may incite discriminatory behaviour. Observers aim to measure his or her behaviour towards people bearing this characteristic compared to others without it. Isabelle Rorive ‘Proving Discrimination Cases – the role of Situation Testing’ co-published by MPG and the Swedish Centre for Equal Rights