Age Discrimination

Age discrimination

It is unlawful because of age to:

  • discriminate directly against anyone - unless it can be objectively justified
  • discriminate indirectly against anyone - unless it can be objectively justified
  • subject someone to harassment related to age
  • victimise someone because of age
  • discriminate against someone, in certain circumstances, after the working relationship has ended, unless objectively justified
  • compulsorily retire an employee unless it can be objectively justified.

Employers should ensure they have policies in place which are designed to prevent discrimination in:

  • recruitment and selection
  • determining pay
  • training and development
  • selection for promotion
  • discipline and grievances
  • countering bullying and harassment.

Discrimination because of age covers four areas:

Direct discrimination: treating someone less favourably because of their actual or perceived age, or because of the age of someone with whom they associate. This treatment can only be justified if it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim

Indirect discrimination: can occur where there is a policy, practice or procedure which applies to all workers, but particularly disadvantages people of a particular age. For example, a requirement for job applicants to have worked in a particular industry for ten years may disadvantage younger people. Indirect discrimination can only be justified if it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim

Harassment: when unwanted conduct related to age has the purpose or effect of violating an individual's dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual

Victimisation: unfair treatment of an employee who has made or supported a complaint about age discrimination.


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