What is age discrimination?

New law in force

The Equality Act came into force on 1 October 2010. Some of the information on this page may be out of date.

A ban on age discrimination in services, public functions and associations came into force on 1st October 2012. 

There are different types of discrimination, such as direct, indirect, harassment and victimisation.

The following are examples of the different types of age discrimination:

  • An employer refuses to offer a job to a young candidate, even though the candidate has the skills and competencies required for it. The employer sees the position as one of authority and does not feel the young candidate will be respected or taken seriously because of his age. This is an example of direct discrimination.
  • An employer insists that all candidates for a job have to meet a physical fitness test (that younger candidates can meet more easily) even though the fitness standard is not required for the job in question. This is indirect discrimination.
  • An employee has been consistently passed over for promotion, and is not allowed to attend meetings unaccompanied, because she looks young for her age. Her manager, who is 10 years older than her, feels that she is too ‘wet behind the ears’ to be given more responsibility, despite the fact that she has the right qualifications and five years’ experience in her role. This is an example of direct discrimination.
  • A general work culture appears to tolerate people telling ageist jokes, bullying or name calling. This could count as harassment on the grounds of age. Harassment is a form of direct discrimination.
  • As one of its requirements, a job advert lists 10 years’ experience in a relevant field, when two or three years’ experience would be adequate for the job. This could be seen as indirect discrimination.

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