Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


Rebecca Means

First Page



In the landmark case Kalanke v. Freie Hansestadt Bremen, the European Court of Justice held that a German state law giving women an "absolute and unconditional priority" in the labor market was inconsistent with the European Equal Treatment Directive. Although many Europeans vehemently criticized the Kalanke decision initially, the furor now appears to have subsided. As a result of this decision, however, the European Union is currently re-examining equal treatment policies and will likely provide further guidance to Member States attempting to formulate positive action programs.

This Note first discusses the institutions of the European Union as they relate to its legal processes. Second, the Note summarizes the social policy directives on which the holdings of the European Court of Justice were based. Finally, this Note analyzes the significance of the holding with regard to equal treatment of men and women in the labor market and addresses the implications of the ruling on future positive action programs in the European Union.