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Article 21 - Non-discrimination
Article 26 - Integration of persons with disabilities
Key facts of the case:
In June 2016, the Secretary of State for Justice issued a decision imposing on Mr A.M.Z. a disciplinary sanction of one year and one day's suspension from employment and salary for committing a very serious offence in application of Articles 154.7 of the Organic Regulations of the Corps of Court Clerks and 468 bis.1 h) LOPJ. Mr. A.M.Z., a lawyer in the administration of justice and diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, challenged that decision by appeal to the Administrative Chamber of the National High Court, claiming that the administration had infringed: a) the right not to suffer discrimination on the grounds of disability (art. 14 EC), by failing to give him the opportunity to appeal to the Administrative Chamber of the National High Court. 14 EC), by failing to respond to the prima facie evidence of discrimination on that ground and limiting itself to considering the dysfunctions in the running or management of the judicial office in which the appellant worked as a lawyer in the administration of justice, disregarding the fact that they could be manifestations of the alleged disability; b) the right to a trial with all the guarantees (art. 24.2 EC) due to the use of anonymous witnesses and a surprise witness in the disciplinary proceedings; and c) the right to the presumption of innocence (art. 24.2 EC) due to the inadequate reasoning of the disciplinary decision with regard to the defendant's defence allegations. On 22 June 2017, the Third Section of the Contentious-Administrative Chamber of the Audiencia Nacional handed down a judgment declaring the contested administrative decision to be in accordance with the law. Mr. A.M.Z. appealed against the administrative decision and against the judgment on the grounds that the appeal judgment violated his rights to due process and to the presumption of innocence.
Key legal question raised by the Court:
The Court sought to answer the main judicial question as to whether or not the disciplinary sanction imposed on the appellant, diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, for negligence in the performance of his duties and unjustified delay in the fulfilment of his obligations, violated his rights to equality and non-discrimination on the grounds of disability, to a trial with full guarantees, to the presumption of innocence and to the legality of the sanction (principle of guilt).
Outcome of the case:
The Court upheld the appeal for protection (amparo) brought by Mr. A.M.Z. and declared that his rights to equal treatment and non-discrimination on the grounds of disability, to due process, to the presumption of innocence and to the principle of guilt in criminal law had been violated. The Court considers, on the one hand, that the accreditation of disability must be taken into account by the employer in order to remove the specific obstacles for the worker. It is therefore discriminatory to impose disciplinary sanctions as a result of irregularities in the performance of duties that can be remedied by reasonable accommodation. On the other hand, the right to the presumption of innocence and the principle of guilt are violated by not assessing all the elements necessary to qualify the conduct as non-diligent.
In relation to European Union law, Constitutional Court Judgment 3/2008, Legal Basis 5, recalls that Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights includes disability as one of the express factors of protection against discrimination, while Article 26 "recognises and respects the right of persons with disabilities" to benefit from measures for their integration. For its part, Council Decision 2010/48/EC of 26 November 2009 has incorporated the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities into EU law. As a result, the Court of Justice of the European Union itself has been using the 2006 UN Convention as a source of interpretation of Directive 2000/78/EC, in particular with regard to the right to non-discrimination on the grounds of disability at work [in this regard Judgments of the CJEU of 11 April 2013, Joined Cases C-335/11 and C-337/11, HK Danmark and others, § 37 to 41, 47 and 93; of 18 March 2014, Grand Chamber, C-363/12, Case Z. v. A Government department and the Board of management of a community school, § 76 and 77; of 18 December 2014, C-354/13, Fag og Arbejde (FOA) v. Kommunernes Landsforening (KL), § 53, 54, 64 and 65; of 1 December 2016, C-395/15, Mohamed Daouidi v. Bootes Plus, S.L., §§ 53, 54, 64 and 65; and of 1 December 2016, C-395/15, Mohamed Daouidi v. Bootes Plus, S.L., §§ 54, 64 and 65. Bootes Plus, S.L. and Others, § 42 to 45, and of 9 March 2017, C-406/15, case Petya Milkova v. Izpalnitelen direktor na Agentsiata za privatizatsia i sledprivatizatsionen kontrol, § 36].
En relación con el Derecho de la Unión Europea, la STC 3/2008, FJ 5, recuerda que el art. 21 de la Carta de derechos fundamentales incluye la discapacidad como uno de los factores expresos de protección contra discriminaciones, mientras que el artículo 26 “reconoce y respeta el derecho de las personas discapacitadas” a beneficiarse de medidas para su integración. Por su parte, la Decisión 2010/48/CE, del Consejo, de 26 de noviembre de 2009, ha integrado la Convención de las Naciones Unidas sobre los derechos de las personas con discapacidad en el ordenamiento de la Unión. Como resultado, el propio Tribunal de Justicia de la Unión Europea, viene utilizando la Convención ONU de 2006 como fuente interpretativa de la Directiva 2000/78/CE, en particular en lo relativo al derecho a la no discriminación por razón de la discapacidad en el trabajo [en este sentido SSTJUE de 11 de abril de 2013, C-335/11 y C-337/11 acumulados, asunto HK Danmark y otros, § 37 a 41, 47 y 93; de 18 de marzo de 2014, Gran Sala, C-363/12, asunto Z. c. A Government department and the Board of management of a community school, § 76 y 77; de 18 de diciembre de 2014, C-354/13, asunto Fag og Arbejde (FOA) c. Kommunernes Landsforening (KL), § 53, 54, 64 y 65; de 1 de diciembre de 2016, C-395/15, asunto Mohamed Daouidi c. Bootes Plus, S.L. y otros, § 42 a 45, y de 9 de marzo de 2017, C-406/15, asunto Petya Milkova c. Izpalnitelen direktor na Agentsiata za privatizatsia i sledprivatizatsionen kontrol, § 36].