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«THE EUROPEAN NETWORK OF LEGAL EXPERTS IN THE FIELD OF GENDER EQUALITY Multiple Discrimination in EU Law Opportunities for legal responses to ...»

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As an example for an overly narrow approach of defining multiple discrimination the UK Government publication ‘Equality Bill: Assessing the impact of a multiple discrimination provision’ (April 2009) can be cited. Based on extensive considerations on multiple discrimination, including statistics on success in cases regarding multiple discrimination, this document proposes to only outlaw multiple discrimination on maximal 2 grounds, and only if it occurs as direct discrimination. The typical common law definition of multiple discrimination specifies that a claimant must name a comparator who does not share either of the grounds. It also excludes the possibility to pursue cases of multiple discrimination considerably, e.g. in cases in which one of the forms of discrimination should be dealt with by a specific tribunal.

–  –  –

– Changing the Community legal framework seems most urgent in relation to those elements that have proven to be barriers for judges and equality bodies in addressing cases of multiple discrimination. These barriers include comparatorbased definitions of discrimination. The definition should be expanded by clarifying that naming a comparator is only one way of proving sex discrimination.61 While not all hierarchies are avoidable, a reflection on hierarchies between grounds of discrimination from the perspective of multiple discrimination is necessary. Also, equality bodies with responsibilities for individual strands of discrimination are detrimental to the aim of addressing multiple discrimination in seriousness. Because Community law presently only requires equality bodies for two grounds, it can be cited as justification for maintaining single equality bodies.

– In order to avoid confusion as to whether multiple discrimination is covered by EU law, a clarifying clause in the legal texts (not only in the recitals) of the nondiscrimination directives is desirable.62 Such a clause must not be different for different grounds. Accordingly, it would be contra-productive to include such a rule in only one legal instrument covering a limited number of grounds, or with a limited scope of application. Also, establishing a new instrument only covering multiple discrimination would be contra-productive, as this would put into question the possibility to pursue multiple discrimination claims under the existing directives.

– A specific definition of multiple discrimination seems problematic, as well as an exhaustive enumeration of consequences. It would prevent a flexible development of the concept. Thus, at this point in time, a specific definition of multiple discrimination should not be included into Community law, this is premature.

– In order to take full advantage of the acknowledgement of multiple discrimination, it would be useful to introduce policy oriented measures as presently provided, for example, in Spanish and Romanian legislation. In particular, the concept of gender mainstreaming should be developed in order to respond to multiple discrimination.

For example, in Directive 2006/54/EC, Article 2 1. a) could read: ‘“direct discrimination”: where one person is treated less favourably on grounds of sex, for example if treated less favourably than another is, has been or would be treated in a comparable situation.’ Such a clause could, for example, state ‘Discrimination can also occur if unfavourable treatment is based on more than one characteristic, or on a specific combination of characteristics.’

24 Multiple Discrimination in EU LawBibliography63

S. BURRI & S. PRECHAL (2008) EU Gender Equality Law Brussels, European Commission 2008.* S. BURRI & S. PRECHAL (2009) The transposition of Recast Directive 2006/54/EC, European Network of Legal Experts in the field of Gender Equality, European

Commission, available at:

http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=641&langId=en* I. CARLES (2007) ‘Citizenship and rights: the use of racial anti discrimination laws in a gender perspective’ in: Waaldijk (ed.) Gender and Citizenship in a Multicultural Context pp. 35-68 Frankfurt 2007.

A. MCCOLGAN (2007) ‘Reconfiguring Discrimination Law’, Public Law (2007) pp. 74-94.* J. CONAGHAN (2009) ‘Intersectionality and the Feminist Project in Law’ in: Grabham, Cooper, Krishnadas & Herman (eds.) Intersectionality and Beyond. Law Power and the politics of location pp. 21-48 London and New York 2009. * K. CRENSHAW (1989) ‘Demarginalizing the intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics’ in: University of Chicago Legal Forum 1989 pp. 137-167.* EUROPEAN COMMISSION (2007) Tackling Multiple Discrimination. Practices, policies and laws Brussels September 2007, study conducted by the Danish Institute for Human Rights, Mandana Zarrehparvar and Caroline Osander.* S. FREDMAN (2009) ‘Positive rights and positive duties: Addressing intersectionality’ in: D. Schiek & V. Chege (eds.) European Union Non-Discrimination Law.

Comparative Perspectives on Multidimensional Equality law pp. 73-89 London and New York 2009.* J. GERARDS (2007) ‘Discrimination Grounds’ in: D. Schiek, L. Waddington & M. Bell (eds.) Cases, Materials and Text on National, Supranational and International Non-Discrimination Law (Ius Commune Casebooks for the common law of Europe) pp. 33-184 Oxford and Portland 2007.* S.B. GOLDBERG (2009) ‘Intersectionality in theory and practice’ in: Grabham, Cooper, Krishnadas & Herman (eds.) Intersectionality and Beyond, Law, power and the politics of location pp. 124-158 London and New York 2009.* B. HEPPLE (2004) ‘Race and Law in Fortress Europe’, 67 Modern Law Review (2004) pp. 1-25.* E. HOLZLEITHNER (2005) ‘Mainstreaming Equality: Dis/Entangling Grounds of Discrimination’, 14 Transnational Law and Contemporary Problems (2005) pp. 926-56.* R. HUNTER & T. DE SIMONE (2009) ‘Identifying disadvantage: beyond intersectionality’ in: Grabham, Cooper, Krishnadas & Herman (eds.) Intersectionality and Beyond, Law, power and the politics of location pp. 159-182 London and New York 2009.* L. MCCALL (2009) ‘The Complexity of Intersectionality’ in: Grabham, Cooper, Krishnadas & Herman (eds.) Intersectionality and Beyond, Law, power and the politics of location pp. 49-76 London and New York 2009.





Beyond the literature that is been cited (marked with *), this bibliography also contains such literature that was published after September 2007 and such gender related literature which cannot be ignored in the field.

Multiple Discrimination in EU Law 25 T.M. MAKKONEN (2002) Compound and Intersectional Discrimination: Bringing the Experiences of the Most Marginalized to the Fore Åbo Akademy University 2002.* H. MEENAN (2007) ‘Introduction’ in: Meenan (ed.) Equality Law in an Enlarged European Union pp. 3-37 Cambridge 2007.* R. NIELSEN (2009) ‘Is European Union equality law capable of addressing multiple and intersectional discrimination yet? Precautions against neglecting intersectional cases’ in: D. Schiek & V. Chege (eds.) European Union NonDiscrimination Law. Comparative Perspectives on Multidimensional Equality law pp. 31-51 London and New York 2009.* K. NOUSIAINEN (2009) ‘Utility-based equality and disparate diversities: From a Finnish perspective’ in: D. Schiek & V. Chege (eds.) European Union NonDiscrimination Law. Comparative Perspectives on Multidimensional Equality law pp. 187-213 London and New York 2009.* R. REY MARTINEZ (2008) ‘La discriminación multiple, una realidad Antigua, un concepto nuevo’, Revista Española de Derecho Constitutional (2008, un. 84).

D. SCHIEK (2005) ‘Broadening the Scope an the Norms of EU Gender Equality Law:

Towards a Multidimensional Conception of Equality Law’, 12 Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law (2005), pp. 427-466.* D. SCHIEK (2009) ‘From European Union non-discrimination law towards multidimensional equality law for Europe’ in: D. Schiek & V. Chege (eds.) European Union Non-Discrimination Law. Comparative Perspectives on Multidimensional Equality law pp. 3-28 London & New York 2009.*

D. SCHIEK ET AL. (2007) ‘A Comparative Perspective on Non-Discrimination Law’ in:

D. Schiek, L. Waddington & M. Bell (eds.) Cases, Materials and Text on National, Supranational and International Non-Discrimination Law (Ius Commune Casebooks for the common law of Europe) Oxford and Portland 2007.* H. SKJEIE (2009) ‘Multiple equality claims in the practice of the Norwegian antidiscrimination agencies’ in: D. Schiek & V. Chege (eds.) European Union NonDiscrimination Law. Comparative Perspectives on Multidimensional Equality law pp. 295-309 London and New York 2009.* J. SQUIRES (2008) ‘Intersecting Inequalities: reflecting on the subjects and objects of equality’, 79 Political Quarterlyi (2008) pp.53-61.* UNITED NATIONS (1995) Beijing Declaration (http://www.un-documents.net/ beijingd.htm).* M. VERLOO (2006) ‘Multiple Identities, Intersectionality and the European Union’, 13 European Journal of Women’s Studies (2006) pp. 211-228.* U. VIETEN (2009) ‘Intersectionality scope and multidimensional equality within the European Union: traversing the national boundaries of inequality?’ in: D. Schiek & V. Chege (eds.) European Union Non-Discrimination Law. Comparative Perspectives on Multidimensional Equality law pp. 93-135 London and New York 2009.* N. YUVAL-DAVIS (2006), ‘Intersectionality and Feminist Politics’, 13 European Journal of Women’s Studies (2006) pp. 193-209.* N. YUVAL-DAVIS (2007) ‘Intersectionality, Citizenship and Contemporary Politics of Belonging’, 10 Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy (2007) pp. 561-574.

–  –  –

1. Concept of multiple discrimination in legislation Multiple discrimination is explicitly prohibited, but the term is not defined by law.

The legal provisions just refer to the phenomenon of multiple discrimination, as Paragraph 12 Section 13 of the Equal Treatment Act (private sector), as amended by OJ I 98/2008, as well as Paragraph 19a Federal Equal Treatment Act (federal public sector) as amended by OJ I 97/2008, rule that multiple discrimination shall be taken into account when calculating the amount of compensation. The explanation refers to the example of a black women who might not be employed on the grounds of her sex as well as on the grounds of her racial origin. This explanation also illustrates that discrimination on different grounds deriving from one single fact shall not constitute cumulative claims for compensation.

2. Case law Until now, no cases before the courts dealing with multiple discrimination have been published, but there is one case dealt with by the Equal Treatment Commission (private sector), which concerns sexual harassment combined with ethnic harassment, whereas a further allegation of discrimination on grounds of ethnic origin was denied.1 The different grounds were addressed separately, because each ground is based on a separate legal provision: sexual harassment is based on Paragraph 6(1)1 Equal Treatment Act, whereas harassment because of the applicant’s ethnic origin is based on Paragraph 21(1)1 Equal Treatment Act. The combined effect of multiple discrimination was explicitly acknowledged, as the Commission stated, that sexism and racism are often combined, which occurs in cases of discrimination against women with a dark complexion. In this particular case the employer not only sexually harassed the employee by his words and behaviour, but also called her something like ‘my little dirty one’, which she felt referred to her dark skin.

As the Equal Treatment Commission does not have the competence to impose sanctions, the fact that multiple discrimination was ascertained has not been reflected in higher sanctions, awards or damages.

3. Any cases where gender-related discrimination is overlooked?

Within the Austrian legal system, all discrimination grounds except disability are dealt with by the Equal Treatment Commission, which is divided into three senates, each of them dealing with different grounds and/or different areas of discrimination.

Within this division of competences, ‘Senate I’, which deals with gender-related discrimination in all areas, is also competent for all cases concerning multiple discrimination involving gender. In practice, the chairperson of ‘Senate I’ screens all incoming applications to see whether multiple discrimination is concerned and GBK I/101/07-M (online: http://www.frauen.bka.gv.at/DocView.axd?CobId=34243, accessed 20 April 2009).

–  –  –

4. Proof and procedural problems As far as the Equal Treatment Commission is concerned, in multiple discrimination cases no particular problems of proof or procedure have appeared so far. (As mentioned above, no court cases concerning multiple discrimination have been published until now).

5. Description of a specific case As mentioned above under 3, there is only one case dealing with multiple discrimination published by the Equal Treatment Commission (private sector), which concerns sexual harassment combined with discrimination on grounds of ethnic origin.

The case concerned a female employee of Russian origin, who complained about sexual and ethnic harassment after being dismissed on the last day of her fixed-term employment relationship. Her claim that this dismissal amounted to ethnic discrimination failed. The Equal Treatment Commission considered all three claims independently, as required by the separate statutory provisions.

The remarkable feature of this opinion seems to be the reasoning given by the Commission, that sexism and racism are often combined, which occurs in cases of discrimination of women with a dark complexion. Unfortunately, the Commission did not deliver a more detailed or in-depth reasoning.

6. Effects of legislation and case law in practice For information and surveys: see below, under 10.

7. Role of equality bodies The equality bodies in Austria in general play an important role where it concerns building up expertise and raising awareness in all fields and areas of discrimination – in particular when new provisions are to be applied.



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