Mind your language: age discrimination claims

Peninsula Team

February 03 2023

As Jeremy Hunt urges people who retired early during the Covid pandemic to go back to work, employers need to refresh their anti-discrimination stance

A 58-year-old senior executive in a car firm was called a “fossil” during a meeting with colleagues and told that he “did not know how to deal with millennials”.

A 57-year-old director in an e-commerce business was told “calm down, don’t let the hormones get out of control” by a manager who viewed her as menopausal.

A 47-year-old events-co-ordinator was told “Computers are for young people – not you”.

These are all examples of real-life comments made in the workplace which have resulted in successful age discrimination claims where employers have been ordered to pay financial compensation to the claimant.

Age UK estimates there are 3.5 million people aged 50-64 classified as economically inactive. Of those, 1.3 million are sick and 0.5 million are caring for family and home. That leaves 1.7 million people who could be encouraged to go back to work.

But do they feel that they would be welcomed? That they wouldn’t face the types of comments that the three claimants in the cases above did?

And it isn’t just discriminatory comments that an employer would need to clamp down on as part of their zero-tolerance stance on discrimination.

In July 2020, a 59-year-old knitwear designer resigned from a well-known clothing brand after she was passed over for promotion, despite her excellent credentials, because she was considered a “low flight risk” so would not leave even though she was not successful. The claimant said she did not feel as valued as the younger designers.

The Judge said of the employer’s actions “We find they probably thought this in significant measure because of her age.”

In total, this claimant was awarded £96,208.70.

The protected characteristic of age applies to anyone, of any age, if that was the reason for their less favourable treatment.

In 2021, a 14-year-old was awarded £2500 after an employment tribunal found the café she worked for had ended her employment and that age was a factor in that decision. The Judge said that the employer had given evidence which had indicated he was “not enamoured of employing staff as young as [the claimant]”.

For answers to more questions on age discrimination in the workplace, visit BrAInbox today where you can find answers to questions like What age does an employee have to be before I can make them retire?

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