Religious Equality and Employment within the European Union


Martijn van den Brink, British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, is exploring the regulation of religious diversity within the European Union.

The European Union has adopted legislation prohibiting discrimination regarding employment matters, such as the hiring and dismissal of employees. However, given the wide variety of views on the place of religion, there is significant disagreement on how far the EU must interfere.

Van den Brink’s research will address this and the following questions:

  • What should be the distinction between direct and indirect discrimination?
  • To what extent should the EU defer in questions of religious discrimination to conceptions of national identity?
  • When should religious organisations whose membership is defined by belief be allowed to draw a distinction between people on the basis of belief?

The research is pressing as the EU Court of Justice is increasingly being asked to settle disputes on religious discrimination. The inconsistencies in how and where the line between direct and indirect discrimination is drawn need to be addressed and this research will explore whether a more consistent vision is possible.

In terms of methodology, the relevant legal provisions will be taken as a point of departure but work will then move into contemporary thought on religion and non-discrimination.