Disability, discrimination and equal opportunities : a comparative study of legal models addressing the employment rights of disabled persons, with particular reference to Britain and the United States
Against the background of growing demands in Britain for anti-discrimination legislation covering disabled persons, the study examines the case for reform, and the shape which such legislation might take, in the employment field. Using the socio-legal tradition, the meaning of disability is explored and the demography, nature and experience of disability is described. The evidence of employment discrimination against disabled persons is evaluated and their position in the labour market is plotted. Existing law on disabled employment rights in Britain is set out and its strengths and weaknesses weighed. The employment rights of disabled workers in the European Community, the United States, Canada and Australia are narrated. Then, using comparative legal methodology, a number of problems and issues in the regulation of disability-related employment discrimination (and the promotion of equal opportunities) are recounted and critically analysed. These problems and issues include the definition of disability discrimination, identification of the protected class, fitness for work and employment qualification, use of reasonable accommodation and positive action, preferential treatment and the role of quotas, and enforcement strategies and remedial action. The experience of the United States is recruited as the primary basis of comparison and lessons for suggested legal reforms in Britain are pointed out. Some general conclusions on the efficacy of disability discrimination laws are drawn. The study surveys a wide variety of primary and secondary legal materials, including legislation and case law, and reviews the pertinent literature drawn from legal scholarship and other relevant disciplines. It does so in the context of a theoretical perspective that borrows from the body of legal theory and concepts developed in race and gender discrimination law.