The Equality Act
According to the Equality Act, any discrimination or unfair treatment on the basis of a personal characteristic, such as age, is against the law. The law is in place to protect from discrimination in almost all cases.
The act is applied to discrimination on the following basis:
- Belief or religion
- Sexual orientation
- Marital status
- Pregnancy or maternity
How does the law protect you?
Under the Equality Act, you are protected from various forms of discrimination on the basis of age:
1. Direct discrimination
This is a case when you have been given unfair treatment due to your age. For example, a club refusing to make you a member because of your age.
2. Indirect discrimination
This is a case when age becomes a criterion for good service or opportunity. For example, a training opportunity in a company that restricts people of a certain age, even if they fulfil the rest of the eligibility criteria.
When any unwanted conduct is affecting a person’s dignity or creates a hostile or offensive environment for an individual, due to their age.
This is when an employee is treated in an unfair way because they made a complaint against age discrimination.
Can age discrimination ever be allowed?
While age discrimination is an unlawful act, there are certain circumstances that can be an exception and age discrimination can be legal. In such cases, it is known to be ‘objectively justified’. This simply implies that the employer has to provide a good enough reason for discrimination on the basis of age. For example, a company may put an upper age limit on certain job profiles that need a certain level of physical fitness.
What should you do if you have been discriminated on the basis of age?
What you do and how you take further action will depend on who you are complaining against. But here is a generic solution to what has to be done.
- Find out the complaining procedure of your company. If you are complaining against your employer, you need to talk to their manager or the HR department.
- Write a grievance letter stating your complaint, what happened and when, and the names of people involved. Suggest a solution that you expect. It could be an apology, a transfer to another department or an action against the person responsible.
- If the response is less than satisfactory you can choose to go ahead and contact the office of employment tribunal to seek advice on further action.
Compensation to be awarded in case of age discrimination
There is no limit to the compensation that can be awarded in case of age discrimination. For a successful claim, the tribunal may ask the respondent to pay compensation of an amount, depending on the damages that the discrimination has caused to the claimant. The amount includes compensation for financial loss and compensation for any physical injuries that have arisen due to the unfair treatment.
The damage also includes compensation for injury to feelings, even if the employee did not suffer any financial losses. The amount of compensation for injury to feelings varies, depending on the severity of the case and degree of distress caused.
The top band of compensation is £25,700 and £42,900 and is reserved for only extremely serious cases.
The middle band is of £8,600 to £25,700 is reserved for cases that are less serious.
The lower band is meant for less serious cases where the act of discrimination is merely an isolated occurrence and ranges between £900 and £8,600.