Edited by Alan Bogg, Cathryn Costello and A. C.L. Davies
Chapter 17: Religion and equality in multicultural workplaces: Human rights and anti-discrimination discourses in EU law
How does, or should, European Union labour law structure the enquiry into the nature of equality rights in the workplace – in particular, into the role of religion and the conceptualisation of race – given the relevance of two potentially competing discourses, on human rights and anti-discrimination? The focus of this chapter will be on the interaction within EU law between two discourses or normative orders which speak to the recognition of identity-based rights in the workplace: human rights norms, which seek to guarantee ‘freedoms’ such as freedom of religion, and anti-discrimination norms which aim to achieve equality. The Court of Justice of the European Union serves as a location for both forms of action or types of analysis, though it is arguably more at ease with the latter. Indeed the Court of Justice is particularly attuned to anti-discrimination discourses which, in the EU context, take their inspiration not only from the idea of equality as a ‘universal’ right, but also from the instrumental concern to ensure market integration and economic activity unimpeded by discrimination. In contrast, the discourse of human rights within civil society, concerned to ensure freedom from state interference (whilst also including the state’s obligation to ensure a legal framework within which private actors do not violate the human rights of individuals or groups), is one in which the Court of Justice has traditionally deferred to the jurisprudence of a more specialised human rights court, the European Court of Human Rights.
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