From Antidiscrimination to Equality: Stereotypes and the Life Cycle in the United States and Europe
24 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2011 Last revised: 8 Apr 2015
Yeshiva University - Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law; University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Center on Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law; CUNY - The Graduate Center
Date Written: November 4, 2011
In the United States, mandatory maternity leave is sex discrimination, and mandatory retirement is age discrimination. By contrast, European antidiscrimination law is compatible with both types of mandatory employment policies. This article compares the jurisprudence and policy debates in the United States and Europe on mandatory maternity leave and retirement to unearth two different understandings of the state’s role in advancing equality. In the United States, employment equality is closely tied to preserving individuals’ choice to work, whereas in Europe, employment equality requires collectively imposed norms about the role of work in a person’s life cycle. The comparison highlights the tradeoffs between protecting individual autonomy and combating the social and economic forces that undermine equality.
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Yeshiva University - Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law ( email )
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