In 2006 South London Employment Tribunal referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) the question of whether EC law protects not only disabled employees from direct discrimination and harassment, but also those employees who are associated with a disabled person, such as carers. The Advocate General, whose opinion is usually followed by the ECJ, last month handed down his opinion in the case of Coleman v Attridge Law and said that direct discrimination and harassment by association are prohibited by the Equal Treatment Framework Directive. As the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) does not prohibit discrimination by association, it remains to be seen whether Ms Coleman is able to persuade the UK courts to imply additional wording into the DDA to achieve the purpose of the Directive. The potential implications of the Advocate General’s opinion are wide ranging as, although the reference to the ECJ was limited to persons who are disabled, the Advocate General indicated that the same principle will apply to the other grounds of discrimination prohibited by the Directive – religion or belief, age and sexual orientation
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Direct discrimination and harassment by association prohibited under EC law?
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