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New law on age discrimination

by on October 2, 2012

As from yesterday, age discrimination, harrassment and victimisation  is now banned in England & Wales when providing services and when carrying out public functions.

Under new provisions in the Equality Act 2010, these provisions will apply whether services are provided by the private, public or voluntary sector, and whether they are for payment or free of charge.

There are a number of exceptions to this; this summary on the Equality & Human Rights Commission website sets them out.

The ban on age discrimination in this context of course supplements the prohibition already in place in relation to age in employment settings. However, unlike other ‘protected characteristics’ (such as gender and race) under the Equality Act, direct discrimination on the grounds of of age can be justified if it is ‘a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.’

We have blogged before on some of the legal cases (e.g. Seldon v Clarkson Wright and Jakes) when this test has been considered by the Courts in relation to employment settings. Broadly, this provision recognises that some age-differentiated treatment is socially acceptable.

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