Carer brings hope to millions with landmark win on employment rightsA mother allegedly forced out of her job because of time spent looking after her disabled son has won a landmark legal case which promises to give new rights to Britain's millions of unpaid carers.
emanating from or pertaining to Europe.
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see cryptococcosis. judges in Luxembourg Luxembourg, province, Belgium
Luxembourg, Du. Luxemburg, province (1991 pop. 232,813), 1,706 sq mi (4,419 sq km), SE Belgium, in the Ardennes, bordering on the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in the east and on France in the south. agreed unanimously that Sharon Coleman has the right to claim "discrimination by association" if she was harassed and branded lazy for wanting flexibility to look after the child.
The ruling establishes for the first time that Europe's ban on employment discrimination is not limited to disabled people but extends to those responsible for them or with close connections.
The European court of justice European Court of Justice, judicial branch of the European Union (EU). Located in Luxembourg, it was founded in 1958 as the joint court for the three treaty organizations that were consolidated into the European Community (the predecessor of the EU) in 1967. upheld a legal opinion by its advocate general An Advocate General is a senior law officer of a country or other jurisdiction. Usually charged with advising the courts or Government on legal matters. United Kingdom
Coleman, who worked as a legal secretary in south London South London (known colloquially as South of the River) is the area of London south of the River Thames. Some neighbourhoods north of the Thames have South London postal codes (SW), but these neighbourhoods are classified as West or Central London. , has fought her case for three years, after resigning from the Attridge Law partnership in Bermondsey and claiming constructive dismissal In employment law, constructive dismissal, also called constructive discharge, is where an employee resigns because of their employer's behaviour. The employee must prove that the behaviour was unfair — that the employer's actions amounted to a fundamental breach of .
She said yesterday: "All I was ever asking for was an equal playing field with the same flexibility afforded to my colleagues without disabled children.
"This has been a long, hard battle and it is not over yet, but I am thrilled thrill
v. thrilled, thrill·ing, thrills
1. To cause to feel a sudden intense sensation; excite greatly.
2. To give great pleasure to; delight. See Synonyms at enrapture. that the European court European Court could mean:
Her case will now return to an employment tribunal Employment Tribunals are inferior courts in Great Britain which have statutory jurisdiction to hear many kinds of disputes between employers and employees. The most common disputes being concerned with unfair dismissal and discrimination. in London which will rule on the facts, which are disputed by Attridge Law, and consider how British law needs amending. Coleman, who has avoided claiming "special" treatment for disability, has been supported by the Equality and Human Rights Commission The Equality and Human Rights Commission is an equality and human rights body in Great Britain which was established by the Equality Act 2006 . The chair of the Commission is Trevor Phillips who was previously chair of the Commission for Racial Equality. .
The commission said the ruling ensured that Britain's Disability Discrimination Act would have to provide the extended protection. An estimated 6 million people in Britain act as voluntary carers.
The commission's legal director, John Wadham, said: "This is a very significant case, which has led to new rights for Britain's millions of carers, 60% of whom are women.
"In this day and age people increasingly have to balance caring responsibilities with work and it is vitally important that they are able to do so without being discriminated against or even forced out of the workforce. The commission took the view that people in Sharon's situation should not be left unprotected at work and this decision by the European judges has confirmed that."
Coleman described in evidence how she was picked on by managers after giving birth in 2002. Her son Oliver suffered from the start from deafness and respiratory problems, including apnoeic attacks, which halted breathing up to 60 times a day. She claimed that she was told by a partner that her "fucking child was always fucking sick" and her requests for time off were treated differently from colleagues who asked for time for hospital visits or other tasks involving their children.
The key passage of the court ruling says: "Where an employer treats an employee who is not himself disabled less favourably than another employee in a comparable situation, and it is established that the less favourable treatment of that employee is based on the disability of his child, whose care is provided primarily by that employee, such treatment is contrary to the prohibition prohibition, legal prevention of the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages, the extreme of the regulatory liquor laws. The modern movement for prohibition had its main growth in the United States and developed largely as a result of the of direct discrimination laid down by the directive."
What it means
The ruling binds EU member courts only to extend employment protection to parents of disabled children. But the remarks of the advocate general, endorsed by the court, are a clear signal that the principle should extend to all carers and will eventually do so. The Equality and Human Rights Commission and groups such as Carers UK will now press for British law to be altered to take the broad approach.