If you’ve ever felt victimised, harassed or poorly treated at work due to your age, it’s likely you were facing age discrimination.
What is age discrimination?
Age is classified as one of the protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010. Therefore it’s illegal to discriminate against you because of your age.
An example of age discrimination would be imposing a job requirement that is too hard for younger workers to meet. This would include asking for a number of years’ experience or service.
The components of direct discrimination as a result of age are listed below:
- Unlawful discrimination – when somebody directly discriminates against you because of your age. See the example above
- Discrimination by association – if someone discriminates against you because of the age of someone you’re with
- Discrimination by perception – if someone discriminates against you because they think you belong to a certain age group
There is also indirect discrimination as a result of age. This would include group disadvantage, which essentially where a person is required to show that a Provision Criterion or Practice (PCP) puts or would put, people sharing a specific protected characteristic at a particular disadvantage. For indirect age discrimination purposes, people will share the protected characteristic of age when they are of the same age group.
There are further examples of age discrimination below, relating directly to the workplace. If you have a question about direct or indirect age discrimination please contact us on 0808 164 0808.
What constitutes age discrimination at work?
In the workplace, it’s your employer’s responsibility to make employees of any age feel comfortable and ultimately, accepted. This includes promotion opportunities, training, and general workplace behaviour.
The Equality Act 2010 has outlined four categories that distinguish this type of discrimination. You can find these age discrimination examples below:
- Direct discrimination – if you ask for a pay rise and are told you are “too old” or “too young”, this would be classed as direct discrimination
- Indirect discrimination – if a company is advertising a new role with a mandatory “5 years’ experience” in the description, this could put new graduates and younger professionals at a disadvantage
- Harassment – if someone at your company makes jokes about your age, this could lead to harassment
- Victimisation – if a colleague complains about age discrimination and you support them, passing you over for a promotion could be seen as victimisation
Understanding your rights
It’s important to get an understanding of your rights throughout each stage of your employment, from recruitment all the way through to retirement. This will enable you to identify age discrimination if it occurs and take the necessary action.
For example, your employment terms and conditions should be exactly the same as everybody else’s who works at your organisation. If these differ in any way relating to your age, this would class as discrimination. You’re also no longer expected to retire at 65 years. Now, you can choose when you wish to retire.
Note: there may be exceptional circumstances whereby an employer discriminates, but not unlawfully. For example, if an older employee applies for a role that involves a heavy amount of manual work, an employer may deny them the job due to physical limitations that come with age.
What to do about age discrimination in the workplace
If you feel as though you are a victim of age discrimination in the workplace, you may wish to raise it with your employer in the first instance. If you still aren’t provided with a resolution, you could file a grievance and seek legal advice.
This can be a distressing situation, which is why it’s important that you receive appropriate guidance. If you feel that you have been discriminated against by your employer as a result of your age, please call one of our employment solicitors for guidance. In order to ultimately bring a claim, you would need to go to ACAS with your issue to start the ball rolling, as they’ll get in touch with your employer and try to achieve an “early conciliation”. If this is unsuccessful, our team of employment solicitors may be able to help talk you through your options should you wish to bring a claim.
Note: Going through ACAS and bringing a claim to employment tribunal is time-consuming, and you only have three months less one day from the incident to do so. You must act fast.