Age Discrimination Claims Increase 79%

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The Tribunal Service issued it Annual Statistics for 2010/11 at the end of June showing a dramatic rise in the number of age discrimination claims lodged. In the year ending 31st March, 2011, 6,800 age discrimination claims were filed showing a 31% increase over the same period the previous year and a 79% increase since 2008/09. During 2010/11, Employment Tribunals disposed of 3,700 claim. Of these only 2% (90 claims in total) were successful at Tribunal. Of the remaining 98%, 1,500 were withdrawn before the hearing, ACAS conciliated in 35 of the claims, 3% were dismissed at a preliminary hearing, 9% were unsuccessful and 1% was subject to a default judgement. The Age and Employment Network (TAEN) has expressed concern over the sharp rise in the number of age discrimination claims and has warned the figure is likely to continue rising. Chris Ball, Chief Executive of TAEN – The Age and Employment Network said: “These figures show a dramatic rise in the number of age discrimination claims in the past two years and emphasise the importance of employers becoming more age-aware. "Against a backdrop of a number of high-profile ageism cases, the ending of the default retirement age and rising levels of redundancy and unemployment, many more people believe that they are being discriminated against. These figures relate only to claims and the majority will not succeed in tribunal, but the sheer numbers suggest that they can’t all be wrong. "With further job losses expected in the public sector and the lingering idea that older workers are a burden, we would not be surprised to see these figures continue to rise. "Employers must have appropriate policies in place to deal with issues like redundancies, recruitment and pay. In all of these areas, age should be completely out of the equation." There is a tendency when thinking about Age Discrimination claims to think they relate to older workers. One successful claimant was Leanne Wilkinson who was 18 years old when Springwell Engineering in Newcastle dismissed her for being too young for the job. She was told they needed an older person with more experience. She took her case for age discrimination to Tribunal and was awarded £16,081. The tribunal said the employer had relied upon a "stereotypical assumption that capability equals experience and experience equals older age….age was the predominant reason for the decision to dismiss"

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