Justifications for sex discrimination in employment : a comparative study of the law of the European Community, in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and the Federal Republic of Germany
The removal of discrimination between women and men in the workplace, in order to open up equality of opportunity in employment, is a measure of social policy regarded as desirable by makers of law and policy in Western liberal democracies, including the four legal systems examined in the present study. Legislative provisions with the specific purpose of removal of sex discrimination in employment have been in place in those legal systems for a number of years: since the 1960s, in the case of the United States of America (Civil Rights Act 1964), since the 1970s, in the case of the United Kingdom (Equal Pay Act 1970), since the 1980s, in the case of the Federal Republic of Germany (EG-Anpassungsgesetz 1980) and, in the case of the European Community, since its foundation in 1957 (Treaty of Rome, Article 119). Now that comprehensive legislation with the purpose of removal of sex discrimination in employment is in place, in the four legal systems examined, attention should be focused on the effectiveness of the legislation and on proposals for its continued improvement. The effectiveness of a particular aspect of the general legislative provisions concerning sex discrimination in employment is the focus of the present study. The issue with which the study is concerned is that of exceptions to the rule of non-discrimination, or 'justifications' for discriminatory behaviour in the employment sphere. It is common ground that any statement of general principle (including the principle of nondiscrimination on grounds of sex) will be subject to exceptions. The exceptions form the subject of the present study. Exceptions to a general principle should be applied in such a way as to avoid undermining the core principle. The study seeks to explore qualifications to the general principle of non-discrimination in employment, and to refine those qualifications, so as to protect the application of the general principle.