It is unlawful to discriminate against someone in the workplace because of their age, unless that can be justified on objective grounds (and justifying direct age discrimination will require your employer to do more than simply identifying a business need!). This also applies to job applicants.
Not being offered a job because of your age is more than demoralising and offensive, it is unlawful. Recruitment decisions should be based on who is best qualified and suited to the role, not characteristics such as age.
Age discrimination can affect both younger and older workers.
Some employers do not want to hire people over a certain age for all sorts of unjustifiable reasons. This phenomenon is sometimes compounded by other subconscious yet powerful prejudices.
Being refused a job or asked inappropriate questions about your age because you are perceived as too young for it, is also likely to amount to unlawful age discrimination.
An interviewer is unlikely to make direct comments about your age, although it can happen. They may ask questions which indicate they view your age as negative. For example, they may have extensive questions about your ability to adapt to change or the need for dynamism in the role, which betray preconceived ideas about you if you are an older candidate. Likewise they may refer to the need for “mature experience” when speaking to a younger candidate. Of course, experience may well be justifiably required for many roles but “mature” indicates an age bias.
Some interviewers will not even realise that they are discriminating against you because of your age as they may not be aware of their own prejudices.
If you are asked an inappropriate question at interview it would be worth noting it down after the interview. If you feel that you have been discriminated against because of your age it is important you get in touch with solicitors specialising in employment law.
If you are already an employee of the company where you had the interview e.g. for a different role or promotion then you could raise a grievance if you think your age has affected the decision. There are pros and cons of doing this. You shouldn’t delay in taking advice because you only have three months less a day from the day the age discrimination occurred to take action or any claim is likely to be out of time.
If you have suffered age discrimination at a job interview or in the workplace Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK can provide you with immediate representation. Our employment law solicitors offer a free initial consultation, call us on freephone 0800 916 9060 or contact us online.