Employment e-Brief: Change to indirect discrimination law

Friday 24th July 2015

In CHEZ Razpredelenie Bulgaria C-83/14 the ECJ has held that a person may claim indirect discrimination under the Race Directive even though they do not themselves possess the protected characteristic giving rise to the discriminatory practice. This is contrary to the Equality Act 2010. The UK courts will have an obligation to give effect to EU law so the issue will result in litigation unless there is a legislation change.

The case itself isn’t interesting – it involved an electricity supplier placing electricity meters at different heights in different areas – which the Claimant alleged placed her at a disadvantage because she couldn’t read it. Her business was located in a traditional Roma ethniticy area, but she was not of that ethnicity herself.

It is the Judgment itself which is key. The ECJ held that, in light of the over-arching aim to eliminate all discrimination on grounds of race and ethnic origin, the Directive should not be construed restrictively. It is designed to benefit all persons suffering less favourable treatment or particular disadvantage on one of the specified grounds, even if they do not themselves possess the protected characteristic. The is inconsistent with the UK’s direct and indirect approach to discrimination. Unless the law is changed (quickly) the decision will likely lead to lots of litigation.

If you would like to discuss this e-Brief in further detail, please contact a member of our employment team.