New Decision on Disability Discrimination from the Court of Justice of the European Union

EU-Capitals-LuxembourgThis post is cross-posted on the European Law Blog.

Yesterday, the Court of Justice of the European Union handed down its decision in the joined cases of Ring and Skouboe Werge (see judgment here). This ruling is particularly significant as it represents the first decision on the definition of disability under the Framework Directive on Employment 2000/78 since the EU concluded the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2010. In essence, the Court moved away from the restrictive definition it adopted Chacón Navas, and instead interpreted the Framework Directive in light of Article 1 CRPD, which states that

“persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.”

Continue reading “New Decision on Disability Discrimination from the Court of Justice of the European Union”

New Decision on Disability Discrimination from the Court of Justice of the European Union

European Parliament Recently Hosted International Seminar on Genetic Discrimination

We are delighted to welcome this guest post from Aisling de Paor, a Ph.D candidate in the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway, and Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS) scholar. Aisling is a graduate of NUI Galway (BCL) and University College Cork (LL.M).  Aisling qualified as a solicitor and specialized primarily in employment law.

On 6th March 2012, Marian Harkin MEP and Phil Prendergast MEP hosted a seminar on the topic of Genetic Discrimination. The event was organised by the Centre for Disability Law and Policy, NUI Galway, in conjunction with the European Disability Forum, and took place in the European Parliament, Brussels. This international seminar, which was chaired by Andre Gubbels (Belgian Ministry), was the first of its kind in the European Parliament and brought together a diverse range of leading experts in the area, with the objective of exploring the case for a European level response to protect the privacy of genetic information and to prevent genetic discrimination. The seminar highlighted the interdisciplinary nature of this area and focused on the interaction between genetic science, technology, ethics and the law, and in particular, how best to address this complex area. The event also looked at the challenges and practical problems that arise when attempting to Continue reading “European Parliament Recently Hosted International Seminar on Genetic Discrimination”

European Parliament Recently Hosted International Seminar on Genetic Discrimination

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine

I participated as a witness at the South Africa session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine which took place last month in Cape Town, from 5-7 November. The Tribunal was founded in the 1950s by the philosopher Bertrand Russell, and originally hosted by Jean-Paul Sartre. Formally calling itself the International War Crimes Tribunal, it deliberated over two sessions in 1967 on the issue of American foreign policy and military intervention in Vietnam. The overall aim, according to Russell in 1967, was to arouse consciousness in order to create mass resistance “in the smug streets of Europe and the complacent cities of North America”, and “prevent the crime of silence”. Continue reading “The Russell Tribunal on Palestine”

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine

Report on the Proceedings from the Conference on Genetic Discrimination: Transatlantic Perspectives on the Case for a European Level Legal Response

We are delighted to welcome this guest post from Aisling de Paor, a Ph.D candidate in the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway, and Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS) scholar. Aisling is a graduate of NUI Galway (BCL) and University College Cork (LL.M).  Aisling qualified as a solicitor and specialized primarily in employment law.

On Saturday 19th November 2011, the Centre for Disability Law and Policy (in conjunction with the Burton Blatt Institute, Syracuse University, USA) hosted a conference entitled ‘Genetic Discrimination – Transatlantic Perspectives on the Case for a European Level Legal Response’ at National University of Ireland Galway.  This international conference, which was chaired by Justice John Mac Menamin of the High Court, was the first of its kind in Europe and brought together a diverse range of leading experts in the area, with the objective of exploring the case for a European level response to protect the privacy of genetic information and to prevent genetic discrimination. The conference highlighted the interdisciplinary nature of this area and focused on the interaction between genetic science, technology, ethics and the law, and in particular, how best to regulate this complex area. Continue reading “Report on the Proceedings from the Conference on Genetic Discrimination: Transatlantic Perspectives on the Case for a European Level Legal Response”

Report on the Proceedings from the Conference on Genetic Discrimination: Transatlantic Perspectives on the Case for a European Level Legal Response

Conference on Disability & Genetic Discrimination

This Saturday 19 November the Centre for Disability Law & Policy will co-host a one-day conference with the Burton Blatt Institute entitled “Genetic Discrimination: Transatlantic Perspectives on the Case for a European Level Legal Response”.  It will take place  in Aras Moyola (Ground Floor), North Campus, National University of Ireland Galway commencing at 9am.  The leading experts in the field will speak at the conference.  See the detailed conference programme here and an Irish Times piece here.  This one day international conference is the first of its kind in Europe and will be significant in sparking a debate in Europe about future law and policy in this area.  It is planned to publish the proceedings from the conference. The purpose of this conference is to examine the case for a European level legal and policy response to protect the privacy of genetic information and to prevent genetic discrimination, particularly in the employment and insurance contexts.  The science of genetic testing and related technology is in the process of advancing. Among other things, genetic testing technology may well offer the prospect of being able to detect the onset of future disabilities. The technology is becoming more prevalent and is being used increasingly in both the employment context and the insurance context.  The conference is aimed at legal practitioners and medical practitioners, academics and researchers, NGOs and those involved in disability issues, bioethics and practice. It is also aimed at those interested in medical testing generally as well as genetic testing specifically. There will be Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points available to those who are eligible and a Certificate of Attendance will be provided after the Conference.  For further information please contact Ms. Aisling de Paor at: aisling.depaor@nuigalway.ie or telephone +353 91 494017.

Conference on Disability & Genetic Discrimination

Conference Announcement Genetic Discrimination

The Centre for Disability Law and Policy, NUI, Galway will host a one day conference (in conjunction with the Burton Blatt Institute, Syracuse University) entitled ‘Genetic Discrimination – Transatlantic Perspectives on the Case for a European Level Legal Response’.  The conference is taking place here in NUI, Galway on Saturday, 19th November, 2011.  The purpose of this conference is to examine the case for a European level legal and policy response to protect the privacy of genetic information and to prevent genetic discrimination, particularly in the employment and insurance contexts.  This conference recounts recent scientific advances that make genetic testing more and more accurate and more sophisticated (and which offers the prospect of being able to detect the onset of future disabilities).  It looks at the ethical debate on how to balance competing rights and interests (the right to privacy of the individual and the ‘need to know’ of business and other interests).  It examines the balance struck in the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (2008) in the US.   Keeping in mind the technological advances (and its future orientation) the ethical context and the balance struck in the US legislation it will examine the options for a European legal response possibly in the shape of a new non-discrimination (genetic information) Directive (or an amendment to existing Directives) and whether a sufficient case exists of such a response.  The conference is aimed at legal practitioners, medical practitioners, academics and researchers, NGOs and those involved in disability issues, bioethics and practice. It is also aimed at those interested in medical testing generally as well as genetic testing specifically and the implications of these practices (particularly in the employment and insurance contexts).

See here to register and for more information.

Conference Announcement Genetic Discrimination

Equal Pay for Employees with Disabilities

There is an interesting article in the Winnipeg Free Press about discriminatory laws that permit the payment of below minimum wages to persons with disabilities.  See here.   Employment law in Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan authorise this underpayment provided that the responsible Minister issues a permit.  A freedom of information request showed that 15 permits have been issued in the past 5 years.  See here.  There is a similar provision in Irish law by way of section 35 of the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2008.  Section 35 provides that it is not unlawful for an employer to pay a different rate to an employee with a disability “by reason of that disability, the employee is restricted in his or her capacity to do the same amount of work (or to work the same hours) as a person who is employed to do work of that description but who is without that disability.”  It is my understanding that this provision is rarely used in Ireland.  The rationale presumably for allowing different rates of pay to disabled employees is to facilitate persons with disabilities to acquire the skills and experience necessary to actively participate in the labour market.  However, these types of provisions are ineffective, seldom used and ultimately serve to undermine the social capital of persons with disabilities.    Regardless of the intentions the practice raises many issues from a human rights perspective, particularly in light of the Continue reading “Equal Pay for Employees with Disabilities”

Equal Pay for Employees with Disabilities

Call for Expressions of Interest for Appointment to European Commission against Racism and Intolerence

The Minister for Justice and Equality Mr Alan Shatter has announced that he is seeking expressions of interest from suitably qualified members of the public to be considered for appointment as Ireland’s representative on the Council of Europe’s European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI). The ECRI’s role is described as follows on the Department’s site:

ECRI’s objectives are: to review member states’ legislation, policies and other measures to combat racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance and their effectiveness; to propose further action at local, national and European level; to formulate general policy recommendations to member states; to study international legal instruments applicable in the matter with a view to their reinforcement where appropriate.

ECRI provides Council of Europe member states with concrete and practical advice on how to tackle problems of racism and intolerance in their country. To this end, it examines in each country the legal framework for combating racism and racial discrimination, its practical implementation, the existence of bodies to assist victims of racism, the situation of vulnerable groups in specific policy areas (education, employment, housing etc.) and the tone of political and public debate around issues relevant for these groups.

For more information see the Press Release. Further details on eligibility criteria and how to apply are available on the Department’s website here.



 

Call for Expressions of Interest for Appointment to European Commission against Racism and Intolerence

Towards Affirmative Action in Irish Education

Amid accusations of educational apartheid in the admissions policies of Irish schools, a landmark Circuit Court ruling in Clonmel allowed an appeal by a secondary school against an Equality Authority ruling that it had indirectly discriminated against a Traveller boy in refusing to admit him. The admissions policy of the Christian Brothers High School in Clonmel is a familiar one in the Irish educational landscape: that the applicant be Catholic; that he would have attended a recognised feeder primary school; and that he would have had a father or brother who attended the school prior to him. Continue reading “Towards Affirmative Action in Irish Education”

Towards Affirmative Action in Irish Education

Guest Post: Louise Hannon at the Equality Tribunal.

We are pleased to welcome this guest post from Tanya ni Mhuirthile of the Faculty of Law, UCC. Tanya is a member of the Board of Directors of the Transgender Equality Network Ireland.

The recent decision of the Equality Tribunal that discrimination on the basis of gender identity amounts to a breach of rights under the Employment Equality Acts is to be welcomed. It represents a huge step forward in terms of protection for those who have questioned their gender at birth.

Continue reading “Guest Post: Louise Hannon at the Equality Tribunal.”

Guest Post: Louise Hannon at the Equality Tribunal.