What is age discrimination?
Age discrimination or 'ageism', is when you are treated less favorably than others because of your age.
Is age discrimination illegal?
You are protected from age discrimination under the 2010 Equality Act. Your employer can't decide not to hire you due to age. Nor can they give you different employment terms to others, or make promotion decisions and dismissals due to age.
What are some examples of age discrimination?
Age discrimination can take many forms, but some warnings flags are:
Passed over for promotion
Your employer tells you they won't promote you because you are too old. Another way you can be discriminated against is if your manager regularly gives interesting work assignmnets to other colleagues because of their age.
Not offered learning opportunities
Your workplace offers training to recent graduates and excludes anyone older from participating. Another warning flag is that your employer provides benefits such as reimbursement for professional development to employees based on their age.
Left out of meetings
Your manager doesn't bring you to a meeting with a client or refuses to send you to a work conference because you look too young and he wants "someone who looks more mature".
Comments about age
Colleagues regularly make jokes about your age. These could be framed as jokes or be overtly aggressive.
Denied time off
Your colleagues are given time off to spend with their young children but you're expected to work through holidays and weekends.
Are there exceptions?
An employer can make a decision based on an employee's age if they can show it's objectively justified. This applies to very specific circumstances where there is a 'public interest' such as a company encouraging career progression from younger workers or rewarding loyalty in longer-standing workers.
What can you do about age discrimination?
The first step is to report it to someone in a position of authority in your company. That might be your manager, someone in HR or upper management.
You should follow the company's formal grievance process. If this doesn't have a fair outcome, then you can take further action.
At this point it's important you get advice. You can get advice from a trade union representative or from an expert employment solicitor.
An employment solicitor will review your case and tell you if they think you can bring it to an employment tribunal.
Are there any deadlines?
You have to act fast. There is a strict time limit for bringing a case to tribunal of 3 months from the date of the first incident.