Liliane Gröninger v. Germany (Communication No. 2/2010)
Communication arguing violations to the right to equality and non-discrimination and right to work and employment of a person with disabilities. Whether existing legislation violates rights of persons with disabilities by effectively excluding them of the labor market.
Liliane Gröninger presented the communication before the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on behalf of herself, her husband and her son, Erhard Gröninger, a person with disabilities. Mrs. Gröninger argues Germany violated Article 3 (General principles), Article 4 (General obligations), Article 8 (Awareness –raising) and Article 27 (Work and employment) of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (The Convention), through legislation that failed to promote Mr. Gröninger participation in the labor marker.
Mrs. Gröninger argues that an integration subsidy included in Germany’s social legislation is discriminatory. This subsidy can only be claimed by employers after they make a job offer, and the process excludes participation of the person with disability. In addition, the outcome and duration of the process are uncertain, and the subsidy does not cover persons whose full working capacity can’t be restored within 36 months. Mrs. Gröninger claimed that her son had no access to proper training or placement services and that the Country’s Employment Agencies use methods that effectively prevent inclusion. The author presented the opinion of a legal expert, which explains that, in case of disabilities that are not temporary, “participation in working life is practically impossible”.
The Committee determined that Germany’s policies were not consistent with general principles of Article 3 of the Convention since it viewed disability as something transitional that can be “cured”. It established that the requirements of the integration subsidy creates a deterrent for employment and since general and predetermined benefits exist for employment of recent graduates without disabilities, it puts persons with disability in further disadvantage and creates indirect discrimination.
The Committee added that actions of the State to support integration were limited and not consistent with the States obligation under Article 27, which “enshrines the rights to benefit from appropriate measures of promotion of employment opportunities such as to have effective access to general placement services as well as assistance in finding and obtaining employment.” The Committee identified a violation of “article 27, paragraphs 1 (d), (e) and (h), read together with article 3, paragraphs a, b, c and e, article 4, paragraphs 1(a) and 1 (b) and article 5, paragraph 1 of the Convention.”
The Committee recommended that the State reviewed Mrs Gröninger case, “applying all measures available under domestic legislation in order to effectively promote employment opportunities in the light of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.” The Committee also recommended Germany to revise its legislation in view of the Convention and to take the necessary steps to prevent future similar violations, ensuring the inclusion of individuals permanently disabled.
The Committee requested that Germany reported within six months of the resolution the steps taken to comply with the recommendations. There is no public information at this time of the steps taken as a result of this communication.
Germany’s existing legislation predated the ratification of the Convention. The case reflects the importance of revising legislation after ratification to ensure it complies with international obligations and that programs guarantee real inclusion and avoid both direct and indirect discrimination. This case was one of the first cases analyzed by the Committee. It reflects the views of this body in relation to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.