Protection from discrimination because of disability in European community law




Hosking, David Leigh

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In 2000 the European Union adopted the Framework Equal Treatment Directive which prohibits discrimination because of a number of grounds including disability. This thesis examines the nature of that protection from discrimination because of disability and considers what contribution the directive may make to achieving the policy objectives of the disability rights movement in Europe. The discussion is based on the text of the directive, policy statements issued by the European Council, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission, academic commentary and decisions of the European Court of Justice. The dominant models of disability, the medical and social models, are described and analysed. A formulation of the disability rights movement's general policy themes in the European context is proposed. Conceptual tensions between policy approaches to disability and different understandings of the principle of equal treatment are outlined. A detailed analysis of the likely interpretation of the directive's provisions related to disability is based on the extensive European Court of Justice case law on other forms of discrimination. The directive is likely to provide protection for individuals who are discriminated against in the employment context where that discrimination is caused by bias against disabled people, stereotyping or failure to provide reasonable accommodation. The contribution of the directive to the policy objectives of the disability rights movement in Europe will vary among the Member States ranging from making little difference in those countries which already had non-discrimination legislation to being a major tool for promoting disability rights in those countries which had no history of such legislation.



discrimination, employment, European Union, disability