A British court has ruled that an employer discriminated against a young woman for being too young, under the U.K. Equality Act. The law, unlike equivalent legislation in the United States, prohibits all forms of age discrimination, whether against older employees or younger ones. Typically, age discrimination laws only protect older workers from being discriminated against, but some hope the U.S. might extend similar protections to younger workers as well.
In this case, a 22-year old woman in the U.K. was denied a written employment contract, excluded from her employer’s pension plan and received neither wage slips nor holiday pay to which she was legally entitled. When she asked her employer the reason for this treatment, she was told she was “too young for the job.” As a result, the court ruled she had been discriminated against due to her age and awarded her a total of £3,002.02 ($3,955 USD) for her breach of contract and emotional distress claims.
The law this case was decided on is the U.K. Equality Act, which prohibits a wide variety of forms of discrimination, including discrimination based on age, sex, race, or religion, among other factors. While the purpose of legislation preventing age discrimination in the United States is primarily aimed at protecting older workers, the U.K. Equality Act doesn’t specify that fact, meaning it can be enforced against those who discriminate against younger employees. By comparison, the equivalent federal law in the U.S., the U.S. Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, only applies to employees 40 or older.
In a Forbes article discussing the case, Steven Mitchell Sack noted this disparity. “While it’s a great question in theory, an expanded law will never happen because it’s illogical and impractical in practice,” he says. “Protecting a 28-year-old from age discrimination is silly. It’s hard enough to prove it when you have a 60-year-old, unless you have substantial proof.” In other words, it is unlikely that we will see an expansion of age discrimination law to protect younger employees anytime soon, due in part to the practical complications of proving such discrimination in the first place.
If you have been the victim of discrimination in your workplace or suffered retaliation for reporting discrimination, it is important that you seek the guidance of an experienced New York employment lawyer who can protect your legal rights and advocate on your behalf during the legal process. Steven Mitchell Sack, the Employee’s Lawyer, is a New York employment lawyer who has considerable experience in handling the many aspects of employment law. To schedule an appointment with New York City employment lawyer Steve Mitchell Sack, call (917) 371-8000.