Patrizia's indirect age discrimination case

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Indirect age discrimination at work

Indirect age discrimination is where a policy at your workplace that applies to everyone, can unintentionally disadvantage a particular age group.

An example of indirect age discrimination at work would be:

A 20-year-old factory worker is unable to be promoted to a supervisor role because their employer has a policy that only employees with postgraduate qualifications can be hired as team leads. This can severely disadvantage young workers who are less likely to have these qualifications due to their age.

There have been numerous Employment Tribunal cases that make a claim for indirect age discrimination. We’ll look at one such claim below.

The background

This case was brought against a pub after Patrizia, a 64-year-old bar person, was dismissed after it had closed for refurbishment. She worked at the pub from February 2018 to June 2018.

As the pub was being refurbished, the owners advertised for new staff between the ages of 18 to 25. Patrizia found this odd, but did not question the new rule at the time. During an exchange via WhatsApp, she asked when the refurbishments would be done and when she could get back to work. Her manager promised to ring her, but never followed through.

She then found herself removed from the pub’s WhatsApp group. Her manager claimed that a new group had formed as the pub had been renamed and she would be added as soon as she was scheduled for a shift.

In response, Patrizia stated she had not been paid and had not received wage slips since February, and would go to Tribunal citing ageism due to the job ad. Her manager then responded, “good luck with that, you have just ruined any chance of ever working here again.”

She brought on claims of direct and indirect age discrimination, unlawful deduction of wages, unpaid accrued holiday and failure to provide a statement of employment particulars.

The result

Her claims of direct and indirect age discrimination, unlawful deduction of wages, unpaid accrued holiday and failure to provide a statement of employment particulars were all successful.

By advertising for new staff aged between 18-24-years-old, the pub directly discriminated against older workers, including Patrizia, by excluding them from being considered for the position. In terms of the indirect age discrimination claim, the Tribunal found that the pub had no legitimate business reason for needing younger staff. Thus, the policy was both directly and indirectly discriminatory toward older workers.

Patrizia was also short-changed when it came to her hourly wages. She kept a log book of her hours worked and found that her weekly wages did not match up. She had also previously requested written employment particulars, in her case wage slips, multiple times, although they were never given to her.

She was ultimately awarded £3,187.36.

Important things to remember about this case

All employees have day one rights. These include rights against discrimination, rights to written employment particulars and rights surrounding wages. Patrizia did not have to work at the pub for two years in order to bring these claims and win in a Tribunal.

It’s important to document any evidence you may have in your case. Patrizia was smart to keep a logbook of the number of hours she worked when she did not receive her payslips. This logbook was then used to calculate what she was entitled to.

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