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Law: Discrimination by association – employers beware!

A case was referred to the European Courts concerning whether the EC Equal Treatment Directive (the European law which filters down to our own national law) would protect employees who are associated with disabled people such as carers.

The opinion given was that it would give such protection.

So, in the case say, of a carer, if they are discriminated against (even though they are not disabled themselves) then they are protected against discrimination on the grounds of disability.

It was also held that the same principal would apply to other areas of discrimination eg banning a wife from a works party because the husband passed retirement age, banning a heterosexual person from a works outing because the friend to be brought along is a homosexual, banning a wife from a race day event because her husband is black.

The original case will now be referred back to the English Tribunal system to establish whether extra provisions need to be addressed in the English legislation.

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