Monday, November 23, 2009

European Commission Tells Britian Its Exemption For Church Employees Is Too Broad

Yesterday's London Observer reports that the European Commission has written United Kingdom authorities telling them that in the opinion of EC lawyers, exemptions in Britain's Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 , Sec. 7(3), are broader than permitted by EU directives. EU Council Directive 2000/78/EC permits exceptions to employment discrimination bans only "in very limited circumstances ... where a characteristic related to religion or belief ... constitutes a genuine and determining occupational requirement, when the objective is legitimate and the requirement is proportionate." Britain currently exempts religious organizations that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, so long as they are doing so to comply with their religious doctrines (or with the strongly held religious convictions of its followers). This exemption is available regardless of the nature of the particular job. The British government has already drafted possible language to bring Britain into compliance with the EU.