Training Outline

7.3 Standard Lecture: Strengthening Judicial Mechanisms (1 hour)

  • Explain that judicial procedures can be strengthened by taking several actions. Use Transparencies 122-123 to highlight and discuss individual strategies.

    • National law should contain such measures as are necessary to protect workers against victimization – that is, punishment or retaliation by the employer in response to an individual bringing a complaint of discrimination.
    • Harm to the interpersonal relationship between parties can frequently be prevented, or at least reduced, by offering conciliation procedures (such as mediation or other forms of prevention and settlement) as part of a court procedure or pre-hearing process.
    • The financial burden for individuals seeking the enforcement of their rights can be, and according to human rights law should be, alleviated by positive State actions (such as financial assistance or the provision of legal experts) to allow individual applicants to present their cases properly and satisfactorily before a court;
    • The use of simple, straightforward court proceedings – such as civil and labour court cases – should be preferred, as these are less intimidating.
    • The duration of legal procedures can be reduced by imposing strict time periods and by ensuring that there are a sufficient number of judges.
    • The emotional burden on the defendant can be alleviated by allowing non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or trade unions to support individual applicants by becoming associated with the case or bringing the case on behalf of the applicant.
    • NGOs and trade unions might be given the right to lodge complaints in their own name (collective complaint procedure).
    • The burden of proof for the applicant can be lessened by partially reversing this burden. This means that it will suffice for an applicant (i.e. disabled person) to establish facts suggesting that adverse treatment on the grounds of disability has occurred. Once this has happened, the defending party must prove that the measure was not discriminatory.
    • Lastly, the implementation and enforcement of equal employment opportunity laws and regulations through the courts presupposes knowledge and sensitivity on the part of members of the judiciary and legal advisors about discrimination issues. This situation requires adequately planned and resourced programmes to brief and raise the awareness of the judiciary, advocates, and legal advisors.

    Emphasize that when adopting or revising equal employment opportunity legislation, lawmakers should provide for court procedures, but should not rely solely on such individual enforcement mechanisms to ensure effective implementation of the law.

    OPTIONAL EXERCISE (30 minutes): Ask participants to break up into small groups of 3-5 individuals and to discuss strategies that they feel would strengthen judicial procedures, while at the same time minimizing the burdens and stress that these types of processes might have on individuals with disabilities seeking to assert their rights. Common initial responses may be found in Transparencies 122-123. Participants should be encouraged to go beyond those strategies that have already been discussed.