In 1997 the council of the European Union issued a Directive shifting the burden of proof away from the employee towards the employer in cases of discrimination. This built on the Equal Treatment Directive of 1976.

It stated that:

Member States shall take such measures as are necessary, in accordance with their national judicial systems, to ensure that, when persons who consider themselves wronged because the principle of equal treatment has not been applied to them establish, before a court or other competent authority, facts from which it may be presumed that there has been direct or indirect discrimination, it shall be for the respondent to prove that there has been no breach of the principle of equal treatment. (Council Directive 97/80/EC, 15 Dec 1997).