It is respect of the principle of the equality of all before the law that forms the basis of rules designed to ensure access to social rights for everyone.
However, it is understood that promoting this equality raises several major difficulties. The first is linked to the danger of producing solely formal equality, which is a far cry from concrete equality in terms of access to justice, rights, public goods and, more generally, to the resources needed by everyone in order to benefit from the mobility that will enable them to construct their own singular life course. It is one thing to affirm access to a certain number of rights for everyone, and another to effectively provide it.
The second difficulty is that of the resources employed in order to attain this equality. It may be a question of equality by differentiation (in which existing differences are compensated for by establishing specific systems, with the result that the individual is defined in terms of strictly abstract criteria and not in consideration of a particular socially-determined context). The choice between the two entails challenges that cannot be ignored.
The third difficulty to be studied ensues from the second. The risk is that reference to equality might mask reference to the substantial content of the social pact. Without bringing into question the promotion of equality, it must not constitute a barrier to the promotion of the rights that are guaranteed or to the social project advocated by society. It is one thing to say that everyone has the same rights, and another thing to define those rights.
More specifically, the question of equality will be considered in particular through access to and maintaining of employment for people in situations of vulnerability, as well as the much-debated question of “diversity”. The work will focus – in connection with the research theme on the physical and mental health of the worker and person – on the tensions that exist between legal requirements on the employment of people with disabilities, and employers’ representations of mentally-disabled people. The research will aim to conceptualise specific methods to support enterprises in the process of the professional integration of mentally-disabled people.
Lastly, concerning questions of diversity, the confrontation between work and religion will be addressed. Although the liberties and the fundamental rights of individuals at work are progressing, legal professionals should examine our ability to live together at work, and the relationship of law to religious demands in the world of work.