Age Discrimination

Age Discrimination Cases At the Supreme Court

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Last year I wrote about Miriam O’Reilly’s successful age discrimination claim against the BBC when she was thrown off Countryfile.  Yesterday it was reported in The Guardian that she is going to leave Auntie and run a women’s support network and seek other challenges. The parting is being reported positively, with Ms O’Reilly not taking the opportunity to stick the boot into the BBC, as she might well be justified in doing.

Leslie Seldon

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Miriam O’Reilly: The BBC Thinks We’re to Blame

I was pleased to see that Miriam O’Reilly won her age discrimination claim against the BBC.  At first glance, the fact that she was replaced by a younger man and woman whilst the veteran John Craven remained in place, didn’t look like the easiest of claims with which to succeed.

However, the fact that a BBC executive told her to “watch those wrinkles when HD comes in” and another told her it was “time for Botox” was pretty helpful ammunition for her.

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Are you a recruiter worried about what to write in a job advert?  Or concerned about inadvertently discriminating against applicants on the grounds of age?

It’s a difficult area and care needs to be taken.  However, some comfort can be taken from  a recent  case in the Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”), which held that serial litigants may have to pay costs if they try to exploit the Age Discrimination Regulations for financial gain.

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Work ’til you drop

Dumbledore - final salary pension scheme?

The Government announced last week that the Default Retirement Age is to finally be abolished from next year. This means that by October 2011 it will no longer be lawful for employers to demand that their employees retire at 65. The previous government announced it was going to review the issue last year  veryshortly before the final hearing in the Heyday saga (and did so probably to avoid losing the case and face).

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There have been some interesting reported cases over the last couple of weeks on a broad range of topics.  For instance,


Legal Representation at Internal Disciplinary Hearings

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Yesterday Ian Barratt of Mind Strengths Ltd published his “Seven Top Stress Management Tips for Employees”.  Today I am publishing my “top tips” for employers hoping to avoid claims for stress at work from being commenced against them.   

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As promised last Monday, I am delighted today to welcome my first guest blogger, Ian Barratt (pictured, right) of Mind Strengths Ltd, to present his Seven Top Stress Management Tips on this third Monday of January, the allegedly most miserable day of the year. Ian is a qualified stress management consultant speaker and author.  His book “The Phoenix Strategy”, co-authored with Amanda Robinson was published last October.  Mind Strengths Ltd is a consultancy company offering workplace strress management , wellbeing and support services.  Tomorrow I will look at how employers can minimise the risk of being sued for stress at work by employees. 

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Bankers and Age Discrimination

Over on the Dale Langley & Co website I have written about the recently reported case of age discrimination by Achim Beck at his former employer, CIBC. Click here for the post.  The case was reported on Times Online on the 29th December.  Although Mr Beck has succeeded with his claim, the Employment Tribunal has not yet made an award of compensation and a “remedies hearing” for that purpose is awaited in due course, unless it settles beforehand.   I’ll keep an eye out for what could be a big award.

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Heyday loses

Hot off the press comes news, via the BBC website,  that the Heyday challenge to the default retirement age has been defeated in the High Court.  This means that it is not illegal for employers to insist that an employee retires on their 65th birthday, although that conflicts with the Age Discrimination legislation.  At the moment I have not seen the rationale for the decision but will post on this again when I have.

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Things employers shouldn't ask …

Most people know that employers these days shouldn’t in job interviews ask women of child-bearing age when they intend to start a family.  Nor should they now ask potential employees how old they are.  The reason in both cases is that (a) it is usually going to be none of the employer’s business but, also, (b) it runs the risk of the applicant/employee later stating that the failure to appoint them was on discriminatory grounds. A report on the Personnel Today website from a few days ago questioned the wisdom of Cherwell District Council in asking employees to state whether they intended to retire in the next two or three years.  The Council is currently asking staff to work fewer hours or to work without pay to avoid the need for redundancies.  However, its request to staff to detail their plans and aspirations over the next two to three years could lead to them facing an age discrimination claim, suggests the article, if an employee could show that they were selected for redundancy because of their stated plan to seek retirement.  The same risk would apply if a woman stated she intended to start a family and was subsequently place “at risk”. 

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