Younger workers more at risk of age discrimination

Aug 10 2006 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Contrary to the common perception, it is young people who suffer most from age discrimination at work rather than older workers, new British research has suggested.

A poll by insurer Royal & SunAlliance has found that 14 per cent of young people aged under 25 years old felt discriminated against in the workplace because of their age.

They felt their progression had been hindered because they were perceived as too young to take on extra responsibility.

This compared to a tenth (12 per cent) of older people, aged over 45 years old, who felt discriminated against.

The R&SA research also found more males felt discriminated against than females because of their age.

There were also regional variations, with people in the north of the UK most likely to be affected by age discrimination and those in the Midlands least affected.

Even though both young and old people felt discriminated against, the average age in UK companies was estimated by respondents to be 39 years old, roughly midway between the working ages of 18 and 65.

It is a common perception that the older age groups were discriminated against most in the workplace, but, said R&SA, what this research showed was that companies needed to address the problem of under-25 year getting progression opportunities while still accommodating the needs of older workers.

The age anti-discrimination laws coming into force in Britain from 1 October will cover workers of all ages, unlike in the U.S where it is only older workers who are protected.

The introduction of such legislation in the U.S resulted in a 4 per cent increase in claims, with ageism cases increasing at a quicker rate than any other form of discrimination claim.

In Ireland, age was now the basis of 19 per cent of all employment cases, R&SA added.

Under the new laws UK employers will be held liable for any practices used in recruitment, promotion and training that are unfair to older or younger employees.

Mike Bird, underwriting manager at R&SA, said: "Many people think that age discrimination only happens to older people, but our research shows that a high number of young people feel their progression has been hindered by their age.

"This is a worry for employers, particularly with the introduction of the new Age Discrimination Act, which means employees can sue them for any acts of age discrimination against the young or the old.

"We expect there could be a dramatic increase in cases brought against employers for discrimination to mirror the trends in the U.S and Ireland," he added.

Older Comments

I am a 27 year old college student and I came across the following job requirements this morning for a job I feel qualified for except for the requirement on the second to last line. My son is only three so I guess all the skills and schooling I have do not matter because I did not have my child 10 years earlier. This is age discrimination against the young!

Answer switchboard and multi-task Receive, distribute and prepare mail Greet clients and other visitors Perform various tasks & administrative duties for executives and others Organize project bidding information Needs to know Microsoft Office suite of software Pleasant demeanor and voice Pleasing to the eye… appearance and presentation is important due to the nature of our business Punctual ' 7:30 to 4:30 M-Th and 7:30 to 2:00 Fridays Would prefer someone a bit more mature (with middle / high school age children) $15 to $16 per hour starting

Jasaam Green Bay Wisconsin

It's pretty disgusting. I've 27 and have been told straight up by my employer (6000 employees) that I'd be a good fit for a particular position, but the senior folks would have a hard time hearing their project economics don't make sense coming from a young person ... thus I've been booted around between various junior positions. Substitute 'black' or 'gay' for young and I'd be able to sue. Not so for being young.


I just finished a discriminatory job interview where the interviewer (the owner of the company where I was interviewing) continually told me I was too young, younger than he had hoped the candidate would be, and that I looked too young. I am THIRTY. I have all the skills, qualifications and experience the job required, and both interviewers (this was a 2nd interview today) said they were impressed with my resume, portfolio, and qualifications. The interviewer today told me DIRECTLY that my 'age is the biggest consideration' and being young will be the most difficult thing for them to get past to hire me. And because I'm under 40, it doesn't count as discrimination? That is overt discrimination. They weren't even trying to hide it. Now that I'm researching how to file a claim against the company and I see that I can't because I'm TOO YOUNG, I am getting very upset.

sociallyskilled Portland, OREGON