Equal Treatment Law of the Member States of the European Union is increasingly influenced by developments at EU level. Regarding equal pay between women and men, equal treatment in (the access to) employment and the (access to), statutory social security and supply of goods and services, many provisions exists in the EC-Treaty and in different directives. In addition, the European Court of Justice interpreted these provisions in numerous judgements. An important provision is Article 141 EC, on equal pay between male and female workers. This article has both vertical and horizontal effect since 8 April 1976. EU law has undoubtedly played and still plays an essential role in this field. In 2000, two new directives were adopted, the so-called Race Directive, and the so-called Framework Directive. At the moment discrimination on the grounds of race, sex, religion or belief, disability, age and sexual orientation is prohibited. All these grounds apply to employment, some apply also to goods and services and the prohibition of race discrimination has the broadest scope, including social protection and advantages. Furthermore discrimination based on working hours, temporary contracts and temporary agency work is prohibited as well. Therefore a broad range of legal instruments meant to combat discrimination has been adopted and had to be transposed in national law. During the course, we will discuss the underlying concepts such as equality, the prohibition of discrimination, affirmative action etc. of the relevant EU legislation.
The Court of Justice has to answer many prejudicial questions of national courts regarding the interpretation of the legislative provisions, some of which we will discuss. Have part-timers for example the right to receive overtime supplements when they have to work more working hours than stipulated in their individual employment contract? Is an age limit for compulsory retirement from employment set at 65 years contrary to EU law or not? Is a women protected when she is treated less favourably than other employees by her employer because she is the primary carer of a disabled child and she decides to give up her job?
The EU instruments have also been implemented in the Netherlands in different Acts. In addition the Dutch Equal Treatment Commission has issued many so-called opinions on the application of Dutch provisions. Most of these opinions address contradictory interests between employers and organizations on the one hand and employees and clients on the other hand. Has an employer for example the right to dismiss a woman when she is absent from work due to pregnancy related illness for a long period? What can for instance be required from educational organizations in order to make education accessible for disabled students?
The opinions also often reflect dilemma’s occurring in a multicultural society: such as: is it permitted to offer Turkish and Moroccan women course for reduced prices? During the course we will discuss such issues and analyse some relevant judgments of the Court of Justice of the EU and discuss some opinions of the Dutch Equal Treatment Commission. We also pay attention to enforcement issues and to the effects and shortcomings of anti-discrimination law in practice.