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Age discrimination

Updating author: Tina McKevitt


  • Age is a "protected characteristic" under the Equality Act 2010. (See Definition of age)
  • As well as being liable for its own actions, there are circumstances in which an employer will be liable for the acts of others. (See Who is liable?)
  • The Equality Act 2010 prohibits direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, victimisation and harassment. (See Prohibited conduct)
  • Direct discrimination is where, because of the protected characteristic of age, a person treats another person less favourably than that person treats or would treat other persons. (See Direct discrimination)
  • Indirect discrimination occurs where a "provision, criterion or practice" puts one age group at a "particular disadvantage". (See Indirect discrimination)
  • Under the Equality Act 2010, it is possible for employers to justify both direct and indirect discrimination. (See Justification)
  • Harassment is unwanted conduct related to an individual's age that has the purpose or effect of violating their dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual. (See Harassment)
  • Victimisation occurs when a person is subjected to a detriment because they did a protected act. (See Victimisation)
  • Employers that compulsorily retire employees, or attempt to pressurise employees to retire, are at risk of direct age discrimination and unfair dismissal claims. (See Retirement)
  • There are some exceptions from unlawful age discrimination. (See Service-related benefits, National minimum wage, Redundancy payments, Service-related benefits, Insurance and financial services and Other exceptions)