Legally reviewed by: Shereen Murphy Updated:

Age Discrimination at Work Compensation Claims

Age Discrimination
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At Cartwright King Solicitors we offer a free 20-minute employment law consultation. We’ll give you advice on your problem at work on a no-obligation basis. Our specialist employment team are here to help and provide you with a quick and effective initial assessment on a range of employment disputes.

What is Age Discrimination?

Age discrimination, sometimes also referred to as ageism, can affect people of all age groups. Although it can be experienced in all aspects of life, one of the most common places for age discrimination is in the workplace. Age discrimination could be a singular event or recurring. Alternatively, discrimination could happen because of a rule or policy based on age. Age discrimination does not have to be intentional to be classed as discrimination.

The Equality Act on Age Discrimination

The Equality Act 2010 states that it is unlawful to discriminate against someone because:

  • you are/are not a certain age or in a certain age group.
  • someone thinks you are/are not a specific age or age group. This is known as discrimination by perception.
  • you are connected to someone of a specific age or age group. This is known as discrimination by association

Age Groups

An age group is a group of people of the same age or of a specific age range.

For example, 75 years olds may be classed as:

  • 75-year-olds
  • over 70s
  • pensioners
  • senior citizens

Four Types of Age Discrimination

Direct Discrimination

Direct discrimination is where an individual is treated less favourably due to their age.

An example could be:

  • Your employer refuses to offer you additional training as they believe you are “too old”. However, younger employees are allowed additional training.

Indirect Discrimination

Indirect discrimination is where an employer may have a policy in place that puts an age group at a disadvantage.

An example could be:

  • You are 20 and your employer has a policy where only employees with a postgraduate qualification can be promoted. As a result, only older employees with the qualification can benefit from a promotion.
  • If a business lets people pay in instalments but only if they are employed. This can discriminate against older people as they are more likely to be retired.

Harassment

Harassment is when someone makes you feel humiliated, offended, or degraded.

An example could be:

  • An employee’s manager keeps commenting on an older employee being slow to pick up new training because of their age. As a result, the employee is offended and finds this distressing.

Victimisation

Victimisation is when you are treated poorly or unfavourably because you have made a complaint about age discrimination. This is also applicable if you are supporting an employee who has made a complaint about age discrimination.

An example could be:

  • Your colleague at work makes a complaint about being called “grey and wrinkly”. You help your colleague complain to the manager. However, as a result, you and your colleague are treated less favourably.

What to Do if You’ve Experienced Age Discrimination?

If you feel that you have been discriminated against by your employer, it’s important to take the right next steps. Doing so can help with your claim or negotiating a settlement exit package.

It’s important to gather as much evidence as you can as soon as possible. This may include emails or logs of conversations.

Firstly, when you have experienced age-related discrimination, you should go to your line manager.

If your line manager is not able to resolve the issue, you can put together a ‘without prejudice’ letter.

The next step would be to write an official grievance letter. Our employment solicitors can help you with this step, guiding you through the official process as getting this step wrong can impact your case.

Once your employer has received the prejudice or grievance letter, they will have to call a meeting.

If you have gathered enough evidence at this stage, you may be able to make a claim at the employment tribunal.

Proving Age Discrimination in the Workplace

In some cases, you may need to put together evidence to prove that you’re experiencing age discrimination in the workplace.

As an example, you are a younger employee in the workplace and have received some comments previously about your age that has led you to believe you are being discriminated against.

In addition, you have recently been shortlisted for a project alongside an older employee. However, the older employee is selected for the project, and you believe it is because they are older than you.

Examples of What To Provide to Prove Age-Related Discrimination

To be able to prove that you were not selected for the project because of age discrimination in the example above, you would have to provide:

  • Clear and explained examples of how you have the same level of ability and experience as the other colleague.
  • Further examples of how you are stronger than the other employee for the role. For instance, where you have additional qualifications or experience.
  • Written evidence such as interview notes that show the other candidate was favoured because of their age.

Getting information about the other candidate can be difficult as you need to be sure you’re not taking any confidential information you’re not entitled to. However, getting specific feedback on your interview compared to the other person’s may help provide evidence.

To get further information that your rejection was age discriminatory you can also:

Times When Being Treated Differently for Your Age is Justifiable

In some instances, being treated differently for your age is justifiable in the workplace. Some examples may be:

  • Where hiring someone of a particular age group is essential to the job role. This is called an occupational requirement. An example would be hiring a child to model children’s clothing.
  • An organisation is taking an active role in encouraging the development of a particular age group that is under-represented or disadvantaged in that job role or area.
  • Your employer has a compulsory retirement age that it can justify due to the job role. This is called objective justification.
  • The different treatment falls under the Equality Act’s exceptions.
  • A service provider is making age-related concessions. Such as GPs offering free flu jabs to those over 65s.
  • When suitable evidence is provided when assessing age risk. For example, charging more for insurance from younger drivers who may get into more accidents due to being new on the roads.

When it comes to workplace age discrimination, an employer would need to provide a good reason for the different treatment of an employee due to their age. When it comes to making a claim, it is up to your employer to provide a justifiable reason. Often, this is very difficult to prove, therefore the odds are usual with the employee.

If you are over the age of 65 and are still employed, you are covered by the Equality Act 2010. This means that even if you reach your employer's retirement age, you retain the right to unfair dismissal.

Additionally, you have the right to claim the statutory minimum redundancy payment if you have been made redundant.

No matter your age, employers are not allowed to discriminate against age unless there is a legitimate justifiable reason.

If your employer has terminated your employment and you believe it is because of your age, you may be able to make a case for unfair dismissal. Get in contact with our employment solicitors and we can advise the next steps to take.

There are no cases where your employer can require you to retire. However, in some cases, your employer may be able to justify having a retirement age.

If you have been asked to retire by your employer because of your age you may be able to negotiate an ex-gratia payment. This is a discretionary payment and is usually tax-free.

This is because your employer will not want to risk the employment tribunal finding out that their retirement age is not justified.

If you have been asked to retire, even if your employer has a retirement age, get in contact with our employment solicitors and we can advise the next steps to take.

How Our Employment Solicitors Can Help with Age Discrimination

When taking action against age discrimination in the workplace, it can be hard to know the right route to take. Our experienced employment solicitors can consult you on the best routes to take with the desired outcomes of each option.

When making a claim against your employee our employment solicitors will try to keep the case out of the courts, settling the case instead by getting you compensation associated with a settlement agreement. However, if the best option for your case is for it to go to the employment tribunal, we will support and represent you.

If you believe you’ve been unfairly discriminated against or dismissed because of your age, our employment solicitors can advise you on the next steps to take.

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