Equality of treatment and opportunities, non-discrimination

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Discrimination should be defined as one person, or a group of persons, being treated less favourably than another on the grounds of racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation (direct discrimination), or where an apparently neutral provision is liable to disadvantage a group of persons on the same grounds of discrimination, unless objectively justified (indirect discrimination). In other words, discrimination means treating people differently, negatively or adversely without a good reason. As used in human rights laws, discrimination means making a distinction between certain individuals or groups based on a prohibited ground. The idea behind it is that people should not be placed at a disadvantage simply because of their racial and ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. That is called discrimination and is against the law. But discrimination can be much more subtle, and harder to stop. Discrimination has, over time, evolved to include unequal treatment that results from the operation of rules or policies that are not themselves apparently discriminatory in intention (indirect discrimination). When someone does not get the service they want or the job they think they deserve, there may be a discriminatory reason. What has to be shown is whether a person's race, sex or age etc. was a factor in the denial of the service or the job, or whether it was done only for other, valid reasons. Sometimes, the only way to tell whether there is discrimination is by looking at the effects on groups of people. If people who use wheelchairs cannot get near the service counter, then it is obvious that they are not being well served. Or if people over 50 are almost never hired for a particular job, we can ask whether there is a good reason for this, or whether it is just someone's prejudice against older workers. Harassment is any unwanted physical or verbal conduct that offends or humiliates others. Such conduct can interfere with your ability to do a job or obtain a service. Harassment is a type of discrimination. Harassment shall be deemed to be a form of discrimination when unwanted conduct related to any of the grounds takes place with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person and of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. Harassment can consist of a single incident or several incidents over a period of time. It can take many forms, such as: threats, intimidation, or verbal abuse; unwelcome remarks or jokes about subjects like your ethnicity, religion, disability or age; displaying racist or other offensive pictures or posters. According to the Treaty, the EU has the power to take appropriate action to combat discrimination. The possible grounds of intervention are discrimination based on sex, race or ethnic origin, religion, belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. People from minorities are frequently at greater risk of human rights violations. The EU has implemented policies to achieve equal opportunities for men and women. The Racial Equality Directive and the Employment Equality Directive - introduced by the European Community in 2000 has afforded EU citizens a common minimum level of protection against discrimination. The legislation represents Europe's response to combating the threat that discrimination poses to the economic and social cohesion of the Union, and has its basis in Article 13 of the 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam.[1]

According to the Impact Assessment Guidelines of the European Commission, the following key questions are of particular importance when examining the impacts of policy initiatives on specific regions or sectors:

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 JRC: IA TOOLS. Supporting inpact assessment in the European Commission. [1]

This text is for information only and is not designed to interpret or replace any reference documents.