Under the Equality Act 2010, direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, victimisation and harassment because of age in the sphere of employment and vocational training is prohibited. Direct discrimination can also arise where a person is discriminated against because they are perceived to be a certain age or age group. Employers may also be responsible for the acts of their agents, as well as the acts of other employees.
The Act protects workers from age discrimination in recruitment, employment terms and conditions, promotions, transfers, dismissals and vocational training. However, the Act provides that direct and indirect discrimination may be justified.
The increased number of women aged 50 and above in the workplace means that more women will experience the transition to menopause in their working lives. Employers should be aware of the potential for age discrimination claims in relation to their treatment of women due directly or indirectly to menopausal symptoms. Whilst menopause is not a ‘protected characteristic’ under the Equality Act, in some cases, an employer’s treatment of women of menopausal age may amount to age discrimination.