The Equality Act 2010
covers discrimination and harassment related to age (amongst other characteristics), as well as victimisation.
Direct age discrimination is defined as treating someone less favourably because of age. It can sometimes be justified if it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
Indirect age discrimination is when a provision, criterion or practice (PCP) is applied to everyone and is apparently age neutral, but which:
- disadvantages more people in one age group than in another
- causes an individual employee a disadvantage
- is not justifiable as "a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim".
Harassment is defined as unwanted conduct related to age which has the purpose or effect of violating a person's dignity, or of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that person.
Victimisation is defined as treating someone less favourably because they have brought a claim of discrimination or supported someone else who has made a claim.
Some practices that would otherwise be discriminatory are covered by exemptions. These include:
- age based appointments based on genuine occupational requirements
- some types of positive action to address underrepresentation or disadvantage
- some service-related pay and benefits
- paying the National Minimum Wage
- statutory redundancy pay and some enhanced redundancy pay schemes
- certain age based practices related to pensions and insurance.
There is no longer an exemption covering compulsory retirement.
Remedies for a successful discrimination claim can include a declaration, recommendations and/or compensation (which does not have an upper cap). Employers are advised to follow good practice and may be held vicariously liable for the actions of their employees.