Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Age Discrimination Concerns for Employers

EMW Picton Howell, the commercial law firm are warning recruiters and employers of the growing number of job applicants exploiting age discrimination legislation in order to file claims.

There appears to be a growing trend of people applying for jobs whose adverts tend to suggest a certain age range is required. Upon sending their CV and not receiving an interview, they then lodge a complaint on the basis of age discrimination.

Head of employment at EMW Picton Howell, Jon Taylor, said: "These kinds of multiple claims can be worthwhile as employers sometimes decide it will just be cheaper to pay off the claimant to get rid of the claim."

These age discrimination claims appear to be a modern twist on the race discrimination claims, where an applicant would apply for a job separately using their own foreign name and an assumed Anglo-Saxon name. On receiving positive feedback from the Anglo-Saxon named CV only, a complaint would then be lodged.

Phrases in adverts are actually sought out by the applicants, intent on financial gain. Such wording as "newly qualified" or "10 years experience is essential" are clear examples of instances where a claim could potentially be taken seriously should an applicant not fall into this category, yet feel they are capable of doing the job.

Taylor states: "For example, if an employer or recruitment agency advertises for a "recent graduate" it's relatively easy for the claimant to prove statistically that the majority of recent graduates fall with a fairly narrow age range. This will be enough evidence to shift the burden of proof onto the employer, who then has to justify the use of the term if he is to successfully defend the claim."

Any agency or employer must be extremely careful when publishing adverts, so as to genuinely encourage the application of all potential candidates. Some things to consider within the adverts are:

- Actually write a clause at the bottom of the advert stating that age will not be a factor when considering applications.
- Make sure all response to adverts is logged and kept along with a copy of the advert itself.
- Where practical and possible, give explanations to applicants as to why they have been rejected.
- Show vigilance with the language used. Ensure the advert is not biased towards a particular section of society (such as "experienced candidates" or "recent graduates/ trainees").
- Try to advertise across a wide spectrum of media to ensure maximum expose to your market/s.