Monday, 17 December 2007

Young people at risk

It’s not just elderly people in Shropshire who need to worry about age discrimination – younger workers can be at risk too.

That’s the message from John Mehtam, from our Employment Law team.

“For possibly the first time in the UK, an employment tribunal has ruled that a 20-year-old woman was unfairly dismissed and discriminated against on the grounds of her age. This really is a landmark case, as it shows that age discrimination protection applies equally to younger people and more senior staff.

“Hopefully it will give younger people in the workplace the confidence to stand up for their rights, and help them realise they have the backing of the courts.”

John said it was important though that staff were aware that although a discrimination case like this was largely the same as one for an older person, there was also a justification clause.

“This means the younger worker and their lawyer will need to prove beyond doubt that the issue of their age was used to justify the discrimination, and not just that they felt that to be the case.”

But he said that although the case was likely to raise awareness of the issues, it was unlikely to lead to a huge increase in the number of claims.

“Despite the age discrimination being introduced over a year ago to protect workers of any age, statistics show that the majority of cases have been brought by older workers. Younger workers though should be reassured that if necessary, the law is on their side too.”