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Is age discrimination different?

by on April 29, 2013

Interesting article here in the FT today comparing age discrimination claims to those in relation to race, gender and disability. It explores why age claims are proving more difficult for employees to establish, according to employment lawyers.

Possible factors are said to be:

  • the relative newness of age as a basis for a claim for discrimination – there isn’t the same amount of case law to draw on as there is for other ‘protected characteristics’.
  • the fact that it is possible to justify direct discrimination on the grounds of age if an organization can show it’s a proportionate response to a legitimate aim  – the article suggests that a company might try to argue that it is justified in terminating older workers’ employment on the grounds that this would enable career progression for the rest of its workforce. (We’ve blogged before on cases that have considered this type of argument.)
  • public perception that age discrimination isn’t as bad as other forms of discrimination such as gender or race and is not even seen as a form of prejudice.

These are themes that we’ve also seen in our data. From the perspective of our research, we are interested in how ‘age’ and ‘age discrimination’ are constructed in these debates.

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