Poverty as Misrecognition: What Role for Antidiscrimination Law in Europe?

It is widely agreed that victims of discrimination on traditional status grounds such as gender and race are overrepresented among the poor and undereducated. People living in poverty also face discrimination because of their socioeconomic situation. Many national, European and international antidiscrimination provisions prohibit discrimination on grounds that are related to a person’s socioeconomic situation. It is striking, however, that this is barely applied in practice. On the basis of domestic and European material, I argue that the prohibition of discrimination on grounds of social condition is an empowering legal tool in the protection of disadvantaged people – especially regarding issues of misrecognition – for four reasons: the exclusive applicability of this ground, its determining role in combating stereotypes against poor people, its important cross-cutting role in cases of multiple discrimination and the direct scrutiny of the socioeconomic situation of the applicants.