Table of Contents

Research Handbook on Transnational Labour Law

Research Handbook on Transnational Labour Law

Research Handbooks in International Law series

Edited by Adelle Blackett and Anne Trebilcock

The editors’ substantive introduction and the specially commissioned chapters in the Handbook explore the emergence of transnational labour law as a field, along with its contested contours. The expansion of traditional legal methods, such as treaties, is juxtaposed with the proliferation of contemporary alternatives such as indicators, framework agreements and consumer-led initiatives. Key international and regional institutions are studied for their coverage of such classic topics as freedom of association, equality, and sectoral labour standard-setting, as well as for the space they provide for dialogue. The volume underscores transnational labour law’s capacity to build bridges, including on migration, climate change and development.

Chapter 17: Inclusive equality and new approaches to discrimination in transnational labour law

Colleen Sheppard

Subjects: law - academic, human rights, labour, employment law, public international law


This chapter explores the importance of rethinking and expanding approaches to anti-discrimination law and equality rights in transnational labour law, focusing on the work of the International Labour Organization. The challenges of globalization and deepening inequalities across the formal and informal economy have rendered early frameworks for addressing discrimination at work inadequate. The systemic and structural dimensions of inequality strain traditional legal approaches to anti-discrimination law. The reality of intersecting and complex group-based identities also raises critical weaknesses with respect to single grounds-based approaches to anti-discrimination. In the face of these challenges, new strategies and theoretical concepts are emerging that question traditional categories and approaches while remaining rooted in legal commitments to anti-discrimination and the socio-legal and political importance of group-based recognition. The idea of inclusive equality responds to some of these challenges by highlighting the importance of structural and systemic processes of exclusion, and the importance of ensuring consultation and democratic participation to remedy and prevent discrimination. It resonates with a growing convergence between anti-discrimination law and labour law.

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