European ruling on compulsory retirement age

On 5 March 2009, the European Court of Justice published its ruling on the challenge to the UK’s compulsory retirement age.

The decision confirmed that European Member States have ‘the option to provide, within the context of national law, for certain kinds of differences in treatment on grounds of age if they are “objectively and reasonably” justified by a legitimate aim, such as employment policy, or labour market or vocational training objectives, and if the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary. It imposes on Member States the burden of establishing to a high standard of proof the legitimacy of the aim relied on as a justification.’

Click here for ruling

Click here for Discrimination Law Association briefing by Gay Moon

Click here for Guardian report of the decision

European legal victory creates new rights for carers

On 17 July 2008, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that treating employees less favourably because of their association with a disabled person was unlawful.

The case of Sharon Coleman, funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission jointly acting with solicitors Bates Wells & Braithwaite London LLP, was referred to the ECJ by an Employment Tribunal in order to determine if ‘disability discrimination by association’ is unlawful. Her case will now have to go back to the Tribunal for a hearing later this year.

In a statement, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said that ‘[t]he legal victory in Europe creates new rights for Britain’s six million carers, including those looking after older relatives’.

EC proposal for new anti-discrimination directive

In April 2008, the Equality and Diversity Forum wrote to the President and Commissioners of the European Commission to express support for the proposal for a new directive to extend protection against discrimination in the provision of goods and services to cover all areas presently excluded including disability, age, sexual orientation and religion.

The letter was copied to all UK Members of the European Parliament.

Click here for link to letter

Sex discrimination regulations

Sex discrimination regulations came into force on 6 April 2008.

They implement the Gender (Goods and Services) Directive 2004/113/EC and correct the shortcomings in the UK implementation of the Equal Treatment Amendment Directive 2002/73/EC identified in the case of Equal Opportunities Commission v Secretary of State for Trade and Industry [2007] EWHC 483 (Admin).

Click here for Statutory Instrument (656)

Click here for Statutory Instrument (963)