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

See all articles by Julie C. Suk

Julie C. Suk

Fordham University School of Law

Date Written: November 4, 2011

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Suk, Julie C., From Antidiscrimination to Equality: Stereotypes and the Life Cycle in the United States and Europe (November 4, 2011). American Journal of Comparative Law, Vol. 60, 2012, Cardozo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 365, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1974627

Julie C. Suk (Contact Author)

Fordham University School of Law ( email )

150 West 62nd Street
New York, NY 10023
United States

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