Chapter

Direct Discrimination

Alexander Somek

in Engineering Equality

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199693375
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729737 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199693375.003.0005
Direct Discrimination

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The most appealing explanation of anti-discrimination law recognises the priority of this redistributive dimension. Hence, counteracting what is called ‘systemic discrimination’ must appear to be its core concern. This perspective is consistent with both of its normative categories, namely, indirect and direct discrimination. As regards the latter category, anti-discrimination law translates redistributive objectives into the language of individual action. It thereby promises to remove socially constructed obstacles to effective market participation by identifying distributive agents, such as employers, who exercise decisive influence over the distribution of these resources and opportunities. Their redistributive responsibility is effectuated by prohibiting action on arbitrary grounds. The translation of redistributive objectives into the language of individual action is brought about by making certain acts count as acts of discrimination. However, it is normatively often unclear which acts are to be counted as an act of discrimination. Therefore, the application of anti-discrimination law often vies for the agent’s bad intent in order to close gaps. This is where one first encounters its normative deficiency.

Keywords: Direct discrimination; indirect discrimination; systemic discrimination; neoliberal left; market equality; discriminatory intent; redistribution; deontological orientation of anti-discrimination law

Chapter.  10460 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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