Age discrimination cases on the rise
Age discrimination claims rose 164% in 2010, despite an overall fall in the number of employment claims, according to figures obtained by London firm EMW.
Data from employment tribunals shows that they issued 1,100 age discrimination claims in the last quarter of 2009, and 2,900 in the last quarter of 2010.
During the same time period, the number of employment claims fell 51% from 81,300 in 2009 to 39,900 in 2010.
John Taylor, head of employment at EMW, said the ‘unexpectedly high jump’ in age discrimination claims could be due to employees becoming more likely to claim as their knowledge of the law in this area has grown following some high-profile cases.
In January 2011, Miriam O’Reilly, the 53-year-old ex-presenter of the rural affairs show Countryfile, won a court case against the BBC for dismissing her and other presenters in favour of younger staff.
The disproportionately large number of older people made redundant during the recession may also have contributed, Taylor suggested.
Taylor predicted that the abolition of the default retirement age earlier this month, which had allowed firms to make staff retire at 65, could lead to a further increase in the number of claims.
He said: ‘Because older people find it harder to find a new job, then they are more likely to make employment tribunal claims if they are made redundant.
‘The disappearance of the DRA means that employers will find it much harder to retire older staff, increasing the risk of age discrimination claims.’
Taylor added that firms will have to prove through a formal performance process that older staff are no longer performing well.
He added that many employers still make basic mistakes that could lead to age discrimination claims, including using job adverts including words such as energetic, dynamic, young, strong, or experienced, that could be considered ageist.
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