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Bringing a claim for age discrimination: legal changes in the pipeline

by on August 19, 2013

A recent item on the website of City lawyers SJ Berwin focuses on the employer perspective in age discrimination claims. It asks how easy is it to bring such a claim? ‘Fairly easy’ it concludes (others may disagree) but interestingly it goes on to highlight changes which will make it harder – through what it describes as ‘helpful developments for employers’.

These are:

  • From 29 July 2013, employees now have to pay to bring age discrimination claims in the Employment Tribunal. It costs £250 to file the claim and a further £950 for it to go to an actual hearing. These fees are not automatically repaid by the employer if the employee wins.
  • As of April 2014, it is proposed that employees will no longer be able to submit ‘discrimination questionnaires’ to employers. These currently allow employees to ask their employer questions via a formal process for information that may support their claim.  Though, as the article points out, it’s likely that employees will seek alternative ways of obtaining information e.g. through data subject access requests.

Questionnaires of this sort are currently a mechanism (also available in e.g. disability discrimination cases) for requesting information on a range of issues, including reasons for a particular treatment, specific figures or statistics, details of training and disclosure of documents and policies. Since questionnaires can be issued before proceedings have been lodged, the procedure may also help in assessing the merits of a claim. So it will be interesting to see what effect this change – and the payment of fees – have on the number and quality of age discrimination claims that are brought.

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