Age UK Fined £4000 For Age Harassment: Your Rights as an Older Worker

After being ageist to an older worker during a job application process, Age UK has been fined £4,000. Below, we discuss the details of the case and examine the protections against age harassment in the UK. Additionally, we explore the rare exception to the law.

If you have any questions or believe you have faced age discrimination, please don’t hesitate to contact Redmans Solicitors today. Our years of experience in the employment law sector enable us to provide specialist advice. Following a quick consultation, we could advise you on your possible next steps.

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Age UK Applicant Awarded £4,000 After Facing Age Harassment

Age UK has been ordered to pay £4,000 in compensation to a job applicant for injury to feelings. The national charity, which supports older individuals, was found to have harassed an older worker based on their age during the application process. Consequently, the employment tribunal ruled in the applicant’s favour, awarding an additional £316.50 in interest.

A representative from the charity responded to the tribunal’s decision. They stated, “Age UK prides itself on being a fair employer that actively supports and encourages diversity and inclusion in our recruitment”. As such, they offered an apology, expressing regret that the high standards it strives for were not met.

Older Worker Rights: Key Laws

“Ageism”, “age harassment”, or “age discrimination”. Regardless of the term used, they all refer to the less favourable treatment of an individual due to their age. Under the Equality Act 2010, age is a protected characteristic, and individuals cannot be discriminated against because of it.

The legislation protects employees, workers, contractors, and job applicants and sets out obligations that employers must comply with. This includes taking steps to prevent discrimination and doing all they reasonably can to protect people from it.

Examples of age discrimination include direct, indirect, harassment and victimisation. Should an older worker face any form of ageism and their employer be found to have not complied with their legal obligations, they may be able to claim compensation.

If someone experiences age harassment, they should first look to discuss the instance with their employer. This gives the employer a chance to address the issue and resolve it swiftly. However, should this not be possible or reach an unsatisfactory conclusion, a formal grievance could be raised.

Supposing the matter remains unresolved, though, the individual may want to consider taking their employer to an employment tribunal. To proceed, the individual would be required to satisfy specific time and eligibility requirements.

Examples in Case Law

In Mrs J Ware v London Borough of Ealing and The Governing Body of Horsenden Primary School, an older worker won her employment tribunal claim. This came after the tribunal learned Mrs Ware had faced ageism in the workplace and had been unfairly dismissed. Here, the school was found to have forced Mrs Ware out of her role after telling her, “We’re not all going to be here forever”.

Elsewhere, in Finch v Clegg Gifford & Co Ltd and S Bellamy, the employment tribunal learned how the claimant was offered a settlement agreement during the pandemic without any prior consultation. When Mr Finch highlighted an error in the agreement, he received a response stating, “We know you have been around since Pontius was a Pilate”. This time, the tribunal concluded the claimant had been constructively dismissed but again had faced age discrimination.

Are There Any Exceptions?

Despite UK legislation outlining older worker rights and protections, there is an exception. If an employer can provide an objectively justified and proportionate reason for making an age-based decision, they would not be in violation of the Equality Act 2010. 

However, this exception has limited applications and doesn’t give employers ‘free reign’ to discriminate. As such, barring these limited circumstances, employers must ensure they don’t treat individuals less favourably because of their age.

Whether you’re an older worker or not, if you believe you’ve experienced age discrimination, contact us now. Redmans Solicitors are employment law specialists, and we could uncover whether your employer satisfied the exception to the general rule. If they didn’t, we could help navigate you through the legal process, answering your questions along the way.

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