Socioeconomic inequality as Misrecognition: What Role for Anti-discrimination Law in Europe?

39 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2017 Last revised: 9 Jun 2020

See all articles by Sarah Ganty

Sarah Ganty

Yale Law School; Central European University; Ghent University-Universiteit Gent, Faculty of Law, Students; Université Saint Louis Bruxelles

Date Written: May 15, 2020


It is widely agreed on that victims of discrimination on traditional status grounds such as gender, race, religion...are overrepresented among the poor and undereducated. People living in poverty also face discrimination because of their socio-economic situation. Many national, European and international anti-discrimination clauses prohibit discrimination based on one’s socio-economic situation. It is striking, though, that it is barely applied in practice. Little case law related to this exists at national, international and European levels. Such a situation is surprising, especially in the context of the post-2008 financial crisis, and regarding the numerous direct and indirect counts of discrimination that people are facing because they are unemployed, undereducated, poor or homeless. On the basis of domestic – Belgian, Canadian, American, French, British – and European material, this paper argues that the prohibition of discrimination on grounds of social condition is an empowering legal tool and brings an added-value to Human Rights law, EU law and Discrimination law in the protection of socio-economically underprivileged people for four main reasons: the exclusivity of this ground in some cases, its important role in multiple discrimination, the direct scrutiny of the socio-economic position of the applicants this ground implies and its determining role in combating stereotypes, prejudice and stigma against poor and undereducated people.

Keywords: Discrimination, Equality, Poverty, Socio-economic status

Suggested Citation

Ganty, Sarah, Socioeconomic inequality as Misrecognition: What Role for Anti-discrimination Law in Europe? (May 15, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Sarah Ganty (Contact Author)

Yale Law School ( email )

127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
United States

Central European University ( email )


Ghent University-Universiteit Gent, Faculty of Law, Students ( email )

Universiteitstraat 4

Université Saint Louis Bruxelles ( email )


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