Your rights and obligations
EU anti-discrimination law establishes a consistent set of rights and obligations across all EU countries, including procedures to help victims of discrimination.
All EU citizens are entitled to:
- legal protection against direct and indirect discrimination on the grounds of race or ethnic origin in education, social security, health care and access to goods and services;
- equal treatment in employment and training irrespective of racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, disability or age;
- take action to combat discrimination on the above grounds;
- receive help from a national organisation promoting equal treatment and assisting victims of racial discrimination;
- make a complaint through a judicial or administrative (conciliation) procedure, and expect appropriate penalties for those who discriminate.
Citizen guide "Know your rights – protection from discrimination"
This guide is about your right to be protected from discrimination under EU law. It explains exactly what rights you have and what to do if you think that you have been subjected to discrimination.
Detailed information and advice are available from the stop discrimination campaign website on the grounds of: racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, sexual orientation and age (young or older people).
As an EU employer you must:
- implement the principle of equal treatment irrespective of racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation with a view to taking appropriate measures to accommodate the needs of disabled people, including appropriate measures to enable a person with a disability to have access to employment and training unless doing so imposes a disproportionate burden;
- provide equal access to employment, selection criteria and recruitment conditions, vocational guidance and training, including practical work experience and membership of organisations;
- base job classification systems for determining pay on the same criteria regardless of racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.
Directive against discrimination on grounds of race and ethnic origin:
- Protection against discrimination on grounds of racial or ethnic origin in employment and training, education, social protection, membership of organisations and access to goods and services;
- Definitions of direct and indirect discrimination and harassment.
- Positive action to ensure full equality in practice;
- The right to complain through a judicial or administrative procedure, with appropriate penalties for those who discriminate;
- Limited exceptions to the principle of equal treatment (where a difference in treatment on the grounds of race or ethnic origin is a genuine occupational requirement);
- Shared burden of proof in civil and administrative cases: victims must provide evidence of alleged discrimination; defendants must prove that there has been no breach of the equal treatment principle;
- An organisation in each EU country to promote equal treatment and assist victims of racial discrimination.
Directive against discrimination at work on grounds of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation:
- Principle of equal treatment in employment and training irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation;
- Same rules as the Racial Equality Directive as regards definitions of discrimination and harassment, positive action, rights of redress and sharing the burden of proof;
- Employers must make reasonable efforts to accommodate disabled people who are qualified to participate in training or paid employment;
- Limited exceptions to the principle of equal treatment where the ethos of a religious organisation needs to be preserved, or where an employer legitimately needs an employee to be from a certain age group.
Age, disability, sexual orientation and religion or belief beyond the workplace
Proposal for a Directive against discrimination based on age, disability, sexual orientation and religion or belief beyond the workplace.
This new Directive proposal, adopted by the Commission in July 2008 and currently under negotiation, proposes the following:
- Equal treatment in the areas of social protection, including social security and health care, education and access to and the supply of goods and services which are commercially available to the public, including housing. The Directive will prohibit direct and indirect discrimination as well as harassment and victimisation;
- For people with disabilities, there would be an obligation to provide them with general accessibility as well as "reasonable accommodation ". Both are subject to the condition that they do not impose a disproportionate burden on service providers.
Full text: Directive proposal (COM(2008) 426)