Age Discrimination: your questions answered #asklaw


Thank you to everyone who participated in our online clinic today on Age Discrimination.


From  …if a company wanted to employ an older person to broaden experience in workforce, would that be age discrimination?

Answer: Could be, as a stereotypical assumption that the young don’t have experience. They would need hard evidence to support that.

From  If someone felt they hadn’t been given a job because of their age – either too young or too old – how would they prove it?

Answer: They or the employer may have to prove/disprove it. The JEDT can order disclosure of the documents relating to the recruitment.

From  If we advertise for a youth worker to support teenage LGBT people, can we specify that they must be under 25, say?

Answer: Yes, you may be within one of the general exceptions if you can show that younger workers are more effective supporters.

From  Are education providers allowed to run courses that target a specific age bracket?

Answer: Yes. There is an express exception for education providers – they will not be committing discrimination.


From Lauren Carre If the person can no longer perform their duties due to a physical boundary (arthritis) etc because of their age will they be discriminated against?

Answer: No. If there are reasonable grounds showing the medical condition truly prevents the person working in any role then they will not be a victim of age discrimination regardless of the fact the medical condition one associated with older people.

From Saskia Lee Stewart It is good to hear that older people are getting some protection from the law, which is well deserved. An older brain can hold so much more information, intelligence and wisdom than a young one. However, will it ever be possible to completely protect the older generation from discrimination situations? For example, consider the very real problem that is prevalent for older people who are not even being given a interviews in the first instance due to age? They may have an impeccable CV and fantastic experience, perfect for the job at hand, but the employer considers them ‘too old’ to invest in. It is all very well saying an employer cannot refuse to employ a person due to age, but there is no law saying that an employer has to interview a candidate, however perfect on paper, and can choose to pass them over before they are even given a chance. The race is lost before the first hurdle is reached. Can this problem ever be remedied successfully? It would be wonderful to think so…

Answer: Actually, the law deals with exactly this point in the sense that it prohibits discrimination in recruitment (i.e. “arrangements/determining who should be offered employment”) which in practice covers discriminatory readings of application forms and/or non-selection for interview.

Employers are not allowed to take age of prospective candidates into account in their selection for the post unless they have a good reason. For example, they would need to have real hard evidence to support their reasoning and cannot just base it on assumptions.

Only in cases where there is compelling reason, like for example health and safety of employees, can an employer fail to shortlist someone.

From Saskia Lee Stewart Well, that is good, but in reality I guess it is hard to ‘police’, and although there have been court cases in the past on this, they are tricky. It relies on the person being discriminated against to be brave enough to come forward and take it further. Anyway, thank you for your comment.

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