Most of us are aware that it is unlawful to discriminate on the basis of age but here at Real People we decided to put your knowledge to the test with our recent employment law poll.
We presented you with the following case: Ms Roberts was 18 years old at the time of her dismissal from Cash Zone Ltd. Her line manager had repeatedly referred to her as a “stroppy little teenager” and a “stroppy kid”.
Ms Roberts claimed at an employment tribunal that she had suffered from age discrimination and we asked you if the Employment Tribunal uphold her claim! Find out if you were correct…
The ET did uphold Ms Roberts’ claim. Although it was accepted that she was (1) stroppy; 2 (little); and (3) a teenager, she was awarded £2,000 for injury to feelings. It is OK to use the word “teenager”, but what is unacceptable is using it in a derogatory, negative or stereotypical way as that is a direct criticism of a person’s age.
So it seems most of you are familiar with issues around age discrimination and understand that certain actions or even communication that is commonly classed as banter in the workplace, could actually be offensive to others and could make your organisation liable to claims of discrimination.
So what can we learn from this and related cases?
- Age discrimination in the workplace can be claimed by anyone, regardless of their age. There has been a rise of age discrimination claims being brought by younger workers as in many workplaces it is acceptable to undermine younger employees.
- Avoid what might be seen as light hearted banter in the workplace but can have costly ramifications.
- Remember that alongside the moral argument there is a clear business case for embracing equality and diversity, a diverse workforce will result in greater creativity and decision making and happier staff who stay longer!