What is age discrimination?

Treating someone differently because of their actual age, their perceived age or the age of someone they associate with. In general, popular culture uses a limited range of images to represent people in older age. Most of these are negative which can lead to biased social stereotypes and inaccurate ideas of how older people look, think, feel and what their needs and passions and desires are. The short video ‘Say No to Ageism’ by the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, provides a logical perspective on the cost of ageism to society.

What does the law say?

It is unlawful to discriminate on the basis of age in employment, training, education, provision of services and public functions.

How do I recognise age discrimination?

  • being denied work because of your age
  • passed over for promotion because you are expected to retire soon
  • moved from sales because at 25 years you are considered ‘too young’ to speak with authority about the company products
  • required to have over 10 years experience to do a job which disadvantages younger applicants who may have acquired knowledge in other ways
  • subjected to derogatory language (e.g. ‘over the hill’, ‘old bag’) by the local shop owner
  • spoken to in a manner which is patronising and your needs invalidated

What is the evidence for age discrimination?

  • Around 11% of those aged 52 and over feel they are treated as though they are less clever because of their age.
  • 53% of adults agree that once you reach very old age, people tend to treat you as a child.
  • 97% of annual travel insurance policies impose an upper age limit for new customers.
  • Nearly a third of people between 50 and the UK state pension age are without paid work.
  • People under-25 routinely experience discrimination in the workplace and are seen as less competent than those in older age groups.

Where can I find more information?

Age UK

How Ageist is Britain? University of Kent, 2016