The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg today made a landmark judgement that finally recognised the plight of EAS sufferers. The ruling will also lead to a major review of European employment law.
Employment Aversion Syndrome, or EAS, remains one of the most controversial of the ever-increasing group of modern psychological disorders - behaviours, previously considered unremarkable, that have been medicalised by the assignment of a three letter acronym, and legitimised by the formation of a support/pressure group.
'Those experiencing EAS are unable to face the prospect of employment,' explained a spokesperson for the EAS Society of Great Britain. 'Sufferers have often, however, been stigmatised by society and have experienced discrimination in being considered as idle, scrounging layabouts.'
The test case at the European Court concerned Mr Max Langour of London. His EAS had compelled him for many years to remain in bed each day until the pubs were open, and then spend his remaining waking hours watching TV from his sofa - within easy reach of a case of lager.
The Court heard of how, despite his EAS, the UK Government had harassed Mr Langour into seeking employment with indirect threats of homelessness and starvation. 'Max hadn't no health problems except EAS,' revealed a family friend to BBC News, 'so they said he couldn't have no benefits.'
Lawyers for Mr Langour argued that being compelled to undertake tasks for an employer constituted "inhuman treatment". 'When his EAS demands he should be asleep, drinking at his local pub or watching TV,' his lawyers told the judges, 'unwanted employment is clearly contrary to Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.'
His lawyers further argued that 'economic compulsion upon Mr Langour to seek employment is, in effect, forcing him into state sponsored prostitution of his time and energies.' The Court concurred that this was, for an EAS sufferer, "forced or compulsory labour" and hence "slavery or servitude" contrary to Article 4 of the Convention.
The Court again supported the view that attendance at a disliked workplace by Mr Langour for specified hours was a prima facia example of "deprivation of liberty" and hence contrary to Article 5 of the Convention. Also that "normal family life" was inevitably compromised for an EAS sufferer by being at an unwanted place of employment for significant periods of the week. The judges therefore concluded that this would plainly be contrary to Article 8 of the Convention.
EAS sufferers are reported to be delighted by the decision. 'We believe our members are now fully vindicated by the European Court's judgement,' said a spokesperson for the EAS Society of Great Britain. 'European governments must now recognise the right of EAS sufferers to not work, and their right to be eligible for state benefits adequate to support their lifestyles.'
Currently there is no biological diagnostic test for EAS. 'Diagnosis is symptomatic and usually based on the answer to the question "Do you want to work?"' confirmed a leading EAS specialist. 'A negative response is considered diagnostic of the disorder. It is believed,' she added, 'that there may be around 40 million sufferers in Britain, alone.'
In the light of the European Court judgement, the British Trade Union Movement has advised all who believe they may be affected by EAS to resign from their jobs with immediate effect, put their feet up and pour themselves a drink.
Civil rights groups have expressed fears that 'yet another typically bonkers ruling from Strasbourg will give the Tory Party further justification for withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights and hence free them to trample on genuine rights of British citizens.'