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Chapter

Cover Employment Law in Context

10. Introduction to Employment Equality Law  

This chapter examines the pros and cons of interfering in the labour market via the promulgation of anti-discrimination laws. It evaluates the basic theoretical constructs which are relevant to a proper understanding of anti-discrimination law in the UK and the EU, including the possible policy responses (e.g. the distinction between formal equality and substantive equality). It briefly assesses the historical development of anti-discrimination laws in the workplace, and then analyses key statutory concepts such as direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment, and sexual harassment. Finally, the chapter considers victimization—an important issue since there is little purpose in statutory concepts if the employer can intimidate the employee, thus preventing him/her from bringing or continuing proceedings on one of these bases and/or by subjecting him/her to retaliation.

Chapter

Cover Employment Law

10. Introducing discrimination law  

This chapter introduces the field of discrimination law, explaining why it takes the form it does and summarizing the critical arguments often advanced concerning the whole body of anti-discrimination legislation. The scope of anti-discrimination law has widened very considerably over the past twenty years, principally as a result of EU law protecting people on grounds such as age, sexual orientation, religion, and fixed-term or part-time status. Different areas of discrimination law vary in respect of possible defences when an alleged act of unlawful discrimination has taken place. How far positive discrimination is lawful also varies. Some argue that anti-discrimination law may harm those it aims to protect by distorting the market and discouraging the hiring of under-represented groups. There is much debate about whether it is possible to establish a general principle to help define who exactly should be protected by discrimination law, in what ways, and on what basis.

Chapter

Cover International Human Rights Law

8. Equality and Non-Discrimination  

Daniel Moeckli

The principle of equality and non-discrimination has gained a prominent status in virtually every liberal democratic state as well as in international law. However, what this fundamental rule entails in practice is difficult to establish. The challenge is to give substance to the abstract notion of equality by translating it into concrete legal formulations that clarify which forms of unequal treatment are legitimate because they are based on morally acceptable criteria and which ones are wrongful. This chapter explains how this challenge has been addressed in international human rights law. It first discusses the meaning of equality and non-discrimination and gives an overview of the different norms guaranteeing equality and non-discrimination in international human rights law, followed by an explanation of the concepts of direct and indirect discrimination. The chapter then considers the requirements for a difference in treatment to be justified under international human rights law and sets out the various obligations that the right to equality imposes on states, in particular their duty to take positive action to ensure everyone can enjoy that right.