Carers in the UK may gain protection from discrimination if Ms Coleman’s claim against her former employer is successful before the European Court of Justice. In Coleman v Attridge Law (C-303/06) Ms Coleman is seeking protection under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 even though she is not disabled. She claims that she should be protected from discrimination because she is the carer of a disabled person. She claims that she was forced to resign as a legal secretary after a series of clashes with her boss over her taking time off to care for her severely disabled son.
The Employment Tribunal has referred her claim to the ECJ for it to determine whether the Equal Treatment Framework Directive covers “associative discrimination” i.e. discrimination against a non-disabled person on grounds of their association with a disabled person. This matter is likely to be heard later this year. In the meantime we may well see other employees bringing similar complaints and asking for them to be stayed pending the outcome of the referral to the ECJ.