Hidden Age Discrimination (Redundancy & Performance Procedures)
The charity, Centre for Ageing Better reports that “nearly a third of 50 to 65-year-olds are unemployed…, about a million of them had to leave jobs because of redundancy, caring responsibilities or ill-health…” If you believe you are being targeted with age discrimination (which is often very subtle), through an unfair redundancy or performance process, read on to see how we can help….
What is Age Discrimination?
There are four types of age discrimination prohibited by the Equality Act 2010:-
- Direct discrimination –is treating an employee less favourably because of their age. Unlike in other discrimination claims, it is important to note that in the case of age discrimination, employers have the potential justification of arguing that their discriminatory treatment was a “proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”.
- Indirect discrimination – this is applying a provision, criterion or practice “PCP” to everyone, but the PCP places one particular age group at a disadvantage. In all discrimination claims, the employer has the potential justification that the PCP was a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
- Harassment – this is any unwanted conduct related to age which has the purpose or effect of violating an employee’s dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. This type of discrimination commonly includes name calling, singling out of employees and what is often referred to as “workplace banter….”.
- Victimisation – this is detrimental treatment following an employee carrying out a protected act. A protected act could be lodging an Employment Tribunal claim, or simply complaining about discrimination. An example of victimisation could be an employee lodging a grievance about age discrimination, only to find that the discrimination becomes worse, they are isolated, suffer other ill treatment, like demotion or a pay cut as a result of complaining.
Age discrimination does not just apply to older employees. Although we more commonly represent older employees, we have pursued claims for younger employees where they have been subjected to discrimination on the grounds of being in a younger age group (such as those under the age of 21, and their employer seeking to terminate their employment to avoid paying the applicable rate of the minimum wage).
Recent Examples of Age Discrimination Claims
Age Discrimination Client Story 1:
A highly experienced employee in the over 60 age group was subjected to a sham performance management process through extreme micro-management (being observed when she arrived at work, tasks being monitored, journeys to and from meetings being time-logged). Despite consistently performing to an excellent standard, she was then given impossible deadlines in an attempt to set her up to fail, senior management also started to circulate emails and text messages about her, with discriminatory comments about her age and appearance, making her feel isolated and unwanted. A claim for Age Discrimination was lodged with a significant award being made in our client’s favour.
Age Discrimination Client Story 2:
An employee with over 40 years of work experience, excellent qualifications, no sickness absence, and a clear disciplinary record was selected for redundancy over much younger and less experienced employees. A claim for Unfair Dismissal and Age Discrimination was pursued and resulted in an excellent outcome for our client.
Age Discrimination Client Story 3:
An employee with over 25 years of work experience was subjected to an unfair performance process as a means of forcing him out of work. He knew he would be replaced by a younger, less expensive employee. A Settlement Agreement was negotiated to his satisfaction.
Age Discrimination Client Story 4:
An employee in the over 60 age group subjected to less favourable treatment for being unable to utilise a new computer software system and so dismissed for alleged capability reasons. A claim for Unfair Dismissal and Age Discrimination pursued and resulted in a significant compensation payment for our client.
What to do if you think you have suffered Age Discrimination?
- In the first instance speak to your Line Manager to try and informally resolve the situation. If your Line Manager is involved, then elevate to the next available Manager.
- If an informal approach does not work then review your employer’s formal policies and procedures to see if they have a Grievance Procedure, Dignity at Work Procedure or Bully & Harassment Procedure (or other). You should then follow the appropriate procedure which will usually require you to submit a written complaint about the treatment you are receiving, along with how you would like to see it resolving. Your employer should then investigate your complaint and provide a suitable outcome. Again, obtain support throughout this process from any of the sources listed under the preceding bullet point. Similarly, the solicitors at Lincs Law all have extensive experience of advising employees through internal processes such as these.
- If the formal approach does not work, you may seek redress in the Employment Tribunal by submitting a claim under the Equality Act 2010 for age discrimination. Please remember that internal policies or procedures may take some time to conclude, but a claim for age discrimination must be submitted to the Employment Tribunal no later than 3 months less 1 day from the date of the actual act complained of. Ensure you take appropriate legal advice, so your limitation date is not missed.
Lincs Law Employment Solicitors Can Help
We have assisted many clients with their claims for Age Discrimination. If you fear you are being targeted for age discrimination or have any workplace concerns, do not hesitate to contact us for an initial free consultation on 01522 440512.
Alternatively, if you would like more information about age discrimination visit our age discrimination information pages at https://lincslaw.co.uk/services/employees/workplace-problems/age-discrimination/
Sophie Goodwill, Specialist Employment Law Solicitor
Lincs Law Employment Solicitors