Landmark ruling means a better deal for carers
A WOMAN who claimed she was forced to resign from her job because she has a disabled son yesterday won her legal battle over discrimination.
Sharon Coleman says she suffered "discrimination by association" in breach of EU rules – and the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg agreed.
The landmark ruling declared that an EU Directive banning employment discrimination on grounds of disability is not limited to disabled people themselves, but covers their carers as well.
The verdict effectively gives new rights to millions of carers.
Employment and discrimination barrister Ed Williams, of the London law firm Cloisters, said: "The significance of this ruling cannot be overstated.
"There are literally millions of carers in the UK and the rest of the EU who now have greater protection against discrimination."
He said the ruling had implications beyond disability discrimination. "Since the European Directive covers many other areas of discrimination, this ruling clarifies that the protection against associative discrimination ought to apply to the areas of religion or belief, age and sexual orientation as well.
"So, for example, an employee who is mocked for having an older partner, or a partner of a particular religion, or for their child's sexuality, will now be protected.
"This protection will now extend throughout Europe.
"As a result, UK employers will need to examine their recruitment and equal opportunity policies carefully to ensure they do not directly discriminate against those who are caring for the disabled or the elderly."
Ms Coleman's case was backed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
She took legal action after claiming she was forced to leave her job because she was not allowed as much flexibility in her work as parents of other children were. She was already working for London law firm Attridge Law when she gave birth to a disabled son in 2002.
Ms Coleman claimed her former employers described her as "lazy" for wanting time off to care for her son Oliver, who was born in 2002.
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