Advertising: Age Discrimination

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Employers should consider whether it is necessary to specify in an advert that a certain level of experience is required. A tribunal has found that an advert stating that a teaching vacancy “would suit candidates in the first five years of their career” amounted to indirect age discrimination.

When a teaching vacancy arose Milton Keynes Local Education Authority advertised for candidates in “the first five years of their career”. The school wanted to appoint someone on the same pay scale as the departing employee.

“would suit candidates in the first five years of their career”

Mrs Rainbow was a 61-year old teacher with 34 years’ teaching experience. When she requested an application pack from the school she was told to send in a letter of application only. Unlike other candidates, she did not receive an application form, job description or person specification.

On failing to be short listed for the position, Mrs Rainbow brought claims of direct and indirect age discrimination.

Although the tribunal rejected her claim of direct discrimination, it found that the local authority had indirectly discriminated against her on the grounds of age.

The requirement to be in the first five years of their career put older individuals at a disadvantage because they were much more likely to have more than five years’ experience.

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