Have you ever felt that your gender has prevented you from getting a job? Have you ever witnessed unfair treatment of someone on grounds of their sex, or been ordered to discriminate on sexual grounds? Have you suffered abuse or harassment or do you feel that in some way you are not being properly treated because of your gender?
You may be entitled to take legal action under EU anti sex-discrimination rules.
Action by the EU
Action on sex discrimination has a long history at European level, going right back to the beginnings of the European Community. Since 1957, the EEC Treaty has contained a provision prohibiting unequal pay for men and women. From 1975, the EU has issued several directives on sex discrimination and the European Court of Justice has given a great number of judgments on sex discrimination cases.
EU legislation covers the following areas:
- Employment and training
- Social security and pensions
- Access to goods and services
- Professional, private and family life
- Implementing EU legislation
If the European Commission believes that an EU-country has breached EU law it is entitled to initiate an 'infringement procedure' under article 258 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). For each EU directive passed, a deadline will be set for the transposition of its objectives into national law and all EU-countries are legally obliged to meet the deadline, unless an agreed alternative or exception is made.
Your rights and obligations
It is important for you to know your rights and obligations as defined by the EU Treaty and the Directives on equal treatment between men and women.
If you think you are a victim of discrimination based on your sex, you have the right to take action; although how you can do this will vary between different countries.
As an employer within the EU, you have an obligation to bar sex discrimination from the workplace.
European legislation requires that EU countries give victims of discrimination the right to make a complaint through a judicial or administrative procedure. If you feel you have suffered sex discrimination, you will need to familiarise yourself first with the provisions and procedures of your national legal system, including the official organisations that are supposed to help victims of discrimination.
National Equality Bodies can help you find which financial support is available to follow the legal process, what kind of legal remedies are available, if the process for proving discrimination has taken place and also be a source of advice and assistance.