Goods and services (Directive 2004/113)

AuthorMarlies Vegter
9 Goods and services (Directive 2004/113)196
9.1 General (legal) context
9.1.1 Surveys and reports about the difficulties linked to equal access to and sup ply of
goods and services
There are few surveys and/or reports about equal access to and supply of goods and
services that concern equal treatment of men and women. Much is written ab out the
removal of obstacles for people with disabilities. Race/ethnic background is a topic
covered, as is religion, especially in respect of access to goods and services of people with
a Muslim background. In the field of gender equality , attention is given to discrimination
in the collab orative economy, a s will be outlined in the Section 9.1.2 below. Attention is
also given to the situation of transgender people.
In 2018 the Transgender Network Netherlands (TNN) reported that discrimination against
transgender people had increased by 25 %.197 Part of this discrimination is related t o
access to goods and services. For example, from cases brought before the NIHR it appears
that transgender or intersex people face difficulties in using the f acilities of sports clubs,
saunas, fitness institutes, etc. There are insurances which do not cover certain treatments
that transgender people undergo.
9.1.2 Specific problems of discrimination in the online environment/digital
market/collaborative economy
Problems of discrimination in the online environment/digital market/collaborative economy
were, inter alia, described in an article by Susanne Burri and Susanne Heeger -Hertter in
2018.198 They mentioned the fact that for w omen with care tasks it is more diffi cult to be
available during specific hours, such as the hours for taking children to school and picking
them up at dinner time in the evening . This makes their daily schedule less flexible,
whereas flexibility and availability are important determining factors for acquiring work
in the gig economy. There is also a risk of sexual harassment in certain situations and a
risk that platforms are especially directed at women in order to engage them for traditional
female work, such as cleaning and caring. W omen also tend to ask for and get a lower
rate for their work; because they themselves ask less and it is also not clear who is
responsible for the pay rate. Algorithms may also entail more hidden discrimin ation, as
they tend to follow the preferences of the majority, pr eferences which might be rather
discriminatory. It is not yet clear to what extent these forms of di scrimination will indeed
arise. Much is written about the po ssibilities and risks of the collaborative economy, but
how it will really work out in practice has yet to become clear.
9.1.3 Political and societal debate
There is d ebate on th e topic of discrimination and the digital market, but so far these
debates are predominantly of a theoretical nature. One more practical example is the use
of algorithms to track d own discrimination in job advertisements. To do this a computer
was given a quantity of discriminatory texts in the field of age discrimination. Subsequently
it searched through approximately 2 million job advertisements to check whether they
were discriminatory. It found more than 40 000 discriminatory sentences. The method will
196 See e.g. Caracciolo di Torella, E. and McLellan, B. (2018), Gender equality and the collaborative economy,
European network of legal experts in gender equality and non-discrimination, available at
197 Transgender Netwerk Nederland (2019), Meldingen transgender discriminatie 2018 (Reports on transgender
discrimination 2018), 2019. Available at:
198 Burri, S. and Heeger-Hertter, S. (2018), ‘Discriminatie in de platformeconomie juridisch bestrijden: geen
eenvoudige zaak’ (To combat discrimination in the platform economy legally: No simple matter), Ars Aequi,
2018(12), pp. 1000-1008.

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