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Does age discrimination still exist in the workplace?

By recruitment expert and AMR Regional Director Mike Spencer
It is illegal to discriminate against employees, jobseekers and trainees because of their age, as outlined in the Equality Act 2010.
This includes:
- Discriminating directly against anyone – unless it can be objectively justified
- Discriminating indirectly against anyone – unless it can objectively justified
- Subjecting someone to harassment related to age
- Victimising someone because of age
- Discriminating against someone, in certain circumstances, after the working relationship has ended, unless objectively justified
- Compulsory retiring an employee unless it can be objectively justified
However, despite age discrimination being unlawful, is it still happening in the workplace? Some recent high-profile cases in the news would suggest that ageism is still rife in UK culture. In June 2013, 73 year-old horse racing pundit John McCririck filed a £3m age discrimination claim against his former employers, Channel 4, after they sacked him last October without explanation because they wanted to hire someone younger.
In recent years several high-profile female BBC newsreaders have criticised the organisation over claims that they are ageist, whilst in July 2013 a 52-year old car salesman from Sutton Coldfield was told that his career at a dealership was over because he was too old.
As well as older people claiming they have been the subject of age discrimination in the workplace, younger people can also be subject to ageism from employees or potential employees.
Research carried out in 2012 by the Department for Work and Pensions found a bias towards younger workers, with under-25s twice as likely to have experienced age discrimination than other age groups. 
However, young people in particular can bring a wealth of fresh ideas to a company, whilst older people can bring a wealth of experience to the table. In fact, some of the most successful organisations have employees on their book ranging from age 18 to 70 plus. Alongside the fact that age discrimination is illegal, it is also narrow minded. 
In order to prevent age discrimination in the workplace, it can be useful to train employees in order to raise awareness of the issue. If you do not have enough in-house expertise, specialist trainers in this field can be brought in to cover topics such as what discrimination is and why it is unlawful and unacceptable.
If you are a job seeker looking for work and think that a potential employer may have turned you down for a role due to your age, your recruitment consultant should be able to help you address the situation by getting feedback from your interviewer.  They will also be able to give you advice on interview techniques and questions which may arise relating to your skills and experience, which may indirectly relate to age discrimination.
For more information on how AMR can help you in your job search, please contact us via our website:

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