age discrimination

Five signs of age discrimination in the workplace

Age discrimination is wrong, but it can cause employees to doubt themselves or leave a position in which they are thriving. No matter your age, you should be respected in your place of work by your colleagues and your employers. This month, Herries-Smith will take a look at what age discrimination in the workplace might look like and how you can resolve this with the support of your local employment solicitor

Being given unpleasant duties

If you have gone from hosting board meetings and speaking with clients to being pushed into taking notes, kept out of conversations, or asked to make a drink, this could be a sign of age discrimination. Role reassignment is a clear indicator that your employer may be trying to force you out of the company. 

Hearing negative comments about your age

Hearing people gossiping about your age in the office, or worse, your boss pointedly asking about your retirement places (if you are older) or when you are going back to school (if you are younger) is often a red flag towards age discrimination. Whilst some of these comments may be brushed off as jokes, often they can be quite hurtful and embarrassing. Remind your boss you plan to stay and have no plans to retire and you are perfectly capable of doing your job, and follow that up with an email, so you have a written record of the discussion. 

Low performance reviews for no apparent reason

If you have been celebrating your fantastic performance reviews throughout your career with the company, a sudden negative review could leave you feeling overwhelmed and confused. Often seen with younger employers who are trying to remove an older workforce, they could be giving you a bad review to start your removal process. Keep as much evidence as possible to prove that your performance hasn’t changed and it’s your boss’s attitude towards your age. 

Out with the older workforce and in with the younger

We have all seen this happen at some point during our working lives. The older generation is slowly pushed out of the company whilst younger employees are hired to do the job. Companies who are determined to hire younger and ‘less expensive’ workers could be discriminating against the older workforce. Hiring younger adults who are deemed cheaper is also a sign of age discrimination against the younger employees as they are considered inferior or unqualified. 

Your payslip no longer reflects your work

This sign is often the most difficult to identify as, generally, your payslips and wages will reflect your work output. If a colleague had a fantastic year and got a raise and you had an OK year but didn’t get one, this is not age discrimination. However, if you had a fantastic year like your colleague but have no raise to show for it, this should be raising those flags! 

How are you protected as an employee from age discrimination?

It’s no secret that the world is ageing, and it’s now very likely that you will find up to four generations of adults working alongside each other. For this reason, employers must be seen to be creating an inclusive workplace that is devoid of individual or organisational harm. This goes for any adult who works within the company and not just those of an older generation. 

The Equality Act 2010 covers a range of protected characteristics in the workplace, and those who are deemed not to be following the Equality Act 2010 can be taken to court by their employees. If you feel you have been discriminated against, you need to determine if you are protected by a characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.

Age Discrimination and the Equality Act 2010

Age discrimination is when you’re treated unfairly because of your age or because you are part of an age group. (Citizens Advice Bureau)

For example, you are 71 years of age. You could belong to one of the following age groups: 

  • 71-year-olds
  • over 70s
  • pensioners
  • senior citizens

Taking action when you are facing age discrimination 

One of the most critical steps is not to assume that you are being discriminated against because of your age. As humans, we naturally form stereotypes in our minds, which often supports fast decision making and planning. If you witness age discrimination, don’t be afraid to challenge it, as this could happen to you in the future. 

If you feel you have been discriminated against because of your age, we advise you to speak to a local employment solicitor about your rights and next steps. After a consultation, your solicitor will be able to advise you of your legal rights and identify what action can be taken. Whether you want to deal directly with your employer or you need that support, your solicitor will be there to help you through the process. 

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Herries-Smith is your local employment solicitor 

At Catherine Herries-Smith, we have been protecting the rights of employees for over 25 years as employment solicitors. Everyone has the right to a safe and healthy working space, and no one should feel discriminated against for doing their job. If you are currently facing discrimination in the workplace, no matter your protected characteristic, contact Catherine Herries-Smith today to see how we can support you through it to a positive outcome.