Thursday

23rd Nov 2017

EU court gives boost to indirect disability rights

A preliminary judgement by the EU's top court on Thursday (31 January) could boost the rights of millions of employees taking care of disabled relatives and prevent them from indirect discrimination.

Poiares Maduro, the advocate general at the European Court of Justice said that UK national Sharon Coleman, a legal secretary in London, was unlawfully forced out of her job for demanding flexible hours to look after her disabled son.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • The court said anti-discrimination laws should also protect people connected with the disabled (Photo: thesetides.com)

He argued she had suffered from "discrimination by association" and suggested that EU laws that guarantee fair treatment at work for disabled people extended to those connected with them.

"[It] protects people who, although not themselves disabled, suffer direct discrimination and/or harassment in the field of employment and occupation because they are associated with a disabled person," he said.

"A robust conception of equality entails that these subtler forms of discrimination should also be caught by anti-discrimination legislation," the legal adviser added.

His opinion is likely to set the tone for a final decision due to be taken by a panel of European judges later this year. In most cases, the court tends to follow the initial legal advice.

Ms Coleman has welcomed the early verdict. "I am delighted that we are one step nearer to stopping people with caring responsibilities like me from being badly treated and harassed at work," she said, according to BBC.

"It has taken a lot of courage to fight this case, but no-one should have to choose between caring for disabled relatives and their job," she added.

She was working at the London-based Attridge Law firm when she gave birth to a disabled son in 2002. She claims she was forced to leave her job three years later because she was not allowed as much flexibility in her work as parents of other children.

Campaigners for carers have also praised the initial legal victory at the EU court. "This landmark legal opinion means that employers will have to alter the way they treat carers in their workforce," said Imelda Redmond, of Carers UK.

However, the UK's Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) suggested the verdict could cause "resentment" between workers and "sour industrial relations in the workplace", with employers possibly getting accused of favouritism towards some employees.

The problem could become acute, particularly for small companies where other staff would have to pick up colleagues' work, the FSB suggested, according to the BBC.

British labour law experts also suggest that - if confirmed by the full EU court panel - there could be a significant rise in claims of indirect discrimination at workplace.

EU posted workers face hurdles

Negotiations among the EU institutions will start soon, but could be difficult on several issues - like the inclusion of the transport sector or the duration of a posting.

EU overcomes divisions on posted workers

After a 12-hour discussion, EU employment ministers struck a compromise to reform the rules on workers posted in another country. The principle of equal pay for equal work has been adopted but the transport sector will get special treatment.

Investigation

How Romania became an EU workers' rights 'guinea pig'

"We are paid as if we were a country of unqualified workers". Union leaders and labour rights experts reveal, in figures, the catastrophic consequences of the laws that have turned Romania into the country of the working poor.

Opinion

Mind the gap: inequality in our cities

Minimum wages, 'living' wages and a universal basic income are all part of the ongoing mix to find ways to reduce social inequality across the EU.

News in Brief

  1. December euro summit still on, Tusk confirms
  2. EU calls for end to Kenya election crisis
  3. Report: Israeli PM invited to meet EU ministers
  4. French banks close Le Pen accounts
  5. Commission relaxes rules on labelling free range eggs
  6. Commission issues €34m fine over car equipment cartel
  7. Estonian presidency 'delighted' with emissions trading vote
  8. Mladic found guilty of genocide and war crimes

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Idealist Quarterly"Dear Politics, Time to Meet Creativity!" Afterwork Discussion & Networking
  2. Mission of China to the EUAmbassador Zhang Ming Received by Tusk; Bright Future for EU-China Relations
  3. EU2017EEEstonia, With the ECHAlliance, Introduces the Digital Health Society Declaration
  4. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement For All Families? Same Sex Couple Ask EU Court for Recognition
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC to French President Macron: We Oppose All Contact With Far-Right & Far-Left
  6. EPSUWith EU Pillar of Social Rights in Place, Time Is Ticking for Commission to Deliver
  7. ILGA EuropeBan on LGBTI Events in Ankara Must Be Overturned
  8. Bio-Based IndustriesBio-Based Industries: European Growth is in Our Nature!
  9. Dialogue PlatformErdogan's Most Vulnerable Victims: Women and Children
  10. UNICEFEuropean Parliament Marks World Children's Day by Launching Dialogue With Children
  11. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  12. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure

Latest News

  1. Mali blames West for chaos in Libya
  2. Orban stokes up his voters with anti-Soros 'consultation'
  3. Commission warns Italy over high debt level
  4. Mladic found guilty for Bosnia genocide and war crimes
  5. Uber may face fines in EU for keeping data breach secret
  6. EU counter-propaganda 'harms' relations, Russia says
  7. The EU's half-hearted Ostpolitik
  8. Glyphosate: 1.3 million EU citizens call for ban