Common scenarios

I am interested in a job which requires someone who is “young, dynamic and energetic”. I am over 50 years old, Is this discrimination? If the employer is looking for a person younger than you this would be age discrimination unless the employer could show that it was necessary to appoint someone young. The company should not be making assumptions about older people’s energy levels and their ability to do the job.

I am in my early 20s. Unlike other employees I have not been promoted even though I have the required experience and qualifications. I think this is because my employer sees me as too young to handle the responsibility. Can they do this? This may be age discrimination. Your employer should not take your age into account when assessing you for promotion. They should make a decision based on the relevant skills and experience for the job.

I am 55 and was rejected from a job as a sales assistant at a fashionable shop. They told me it was because they need to attract young customers and my face did not fit. Can they do this? Trying to attract young customers may be a legitimate business aim. But the shop should not reject you for this reason. The real job requirement should be that you have knowledge of the products and fashion awareness. You do not have to be young to have these, so this is likely to be age discrimination.

I have heard there is no longer a default retirement age and employees can retire when they want. Is this true and what does it mean for me? There used to be an automatic retirement age of 65, but this has now been abolished. An employer can no longer make an employee retire at 65 unless retiring employees at that age is justified. Employers can still have a fixed retirement age but they must have good reasons for it. Potential reasons for justifying a fixed retirement age could be:

• The need for the company to recruit and retain new staff, provide promotion opportunities and manage succession effectively.

• The health and safety of individual employees, their colleagues and the general public.

• The need to avoid dismissing employees for performance-related reasons as they get older. The employer might be trying to maintain a friendly and supportive culture. But the employer would have to show that these are very good reasons for a fixed retirement age. If an employee is not performing well, the employer should follow the normal performance procedure.  If there is continuing poor performance she can be dismissed for not being capable of doing the job.