Age Discrimination: Your rights

Caragh Bailey
3 min read
Age Discrimination advice from employment law friend
One of the most common types of discrimination at work is age discrimination. It can affect anyone, and isn't always obvious. Perhaps a job you want to apply for requires ten years of experience, and you left school 6 years ago. Perhaps you've been unfairly selected for redundancy, because you are closer to retirement. In some cases workplace ageism is necessary for the safe, profitable running of a business. Here we explain what is and isn't acceptable treatment, with example scenarios.

age discrimination is wrong, but sadly happens often. To learn more about what behaviours constitute the different types of discrimination, read our main page on discrimination. If you'd like to jump ahead, read our article Discrimination at work: What should you do?

The Equality Act protects you from ageism, whether you are younger, older, or of a specific age range which is being treated unfavourably.

What are the four types of discrimination

Age discrimination falls under four main categories.


    Direct Age Discrimination


    Indirect Age Discrimination

    Age based Harassment
Click here to read more about discrimination at work, how to recognise it, and what you can do about it.

Some examples of age discrimination

  • You find out that someone older than you, with the same job and responsibilities, has a significantly higher salary.
  • You are regularly reprimanded for undermining your supervisor when you make suggestions to improve efficiency. Your younger peers are praised for 'showing initiative' if they do the same.
  • You find out that all of the high commission sales opportunities are being given to your older team mates, when you confront your supervisor, you are told that this is because they are older and have greater financial responsibilities.
  • You are not offered the same training or career progression opportunities as younger peers, despite having worked for the company for longer.
  • You are teased at work for being older than your colleagues. it is often said that your role is a 'young man's game', your team mates affectionately call you 'grandad' but it makes you feel uncomfortable. They don't invite you to Friday night drinks.

Age Discrimination: When is it acceptable?

Your employer can discriminate based on age if it is a ‘proportionate means to a legitimate aim’.
For example:
  • The job you are applying for requires 4 years of training to become fully qualified, you are seven years away from retirement. They do not hire you because they are planning ahead.
  • Your job is very physical. Your employer sets a retirement age of 55 to save having to dismiss an older employee when their performance begins to drop. This is okay because they are aiming to protect the dignity of their employees.
  • You are not allowed to use dangerous machinery because you are under 18. This is okay because they are aiming to protect the health and safety of their employees.
You could still prove that there is a fairer way of achieving these aims and win your age discrimination case at tribunal.

Frequently Asked Questions

Age Discrimination: Are you being treated unfavourably at work?
If you're being mistreated due to your age at work, whether your employer is behaving consciously or not, get in contact with us and see how we can help.

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This content is provided free of charge for information purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. No responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by any member of our company. For employment law advice please get in contact and speak to your employment law solicitors.
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Please be advised that we are a UK company and our advice applies to employment law in England and Wales, only.
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