The European Court of Justice handed down a landmark sex discrimination ruling yesterday, finding an affirmative action law illegal The German law encouraged state agencies in Bremen to promote women over men, when both had equal qualifications. Earl ier a German Court had found the law consistent with employment practices and promoted equal opportunity for women. The European Court found, however, that it “goes beyond” EU equal opportunity legislation. Even if men dominate a particular field, compa nies can’t give equally qualified women preference based on gender.
The European Union Executive Commission has attempted to promote affirmative action for women across the fifteen EU countries and expressed extreme disappointment with the decision. The EU labor commissioner Padraig Flynn commented that the Commission could modify EU employment law so that it explicitly endorsed, “positive action” for women.