The number of age discrimination claims in the UK could “explode” as the new laws enter their second year, the head of the Employers Forum on Age (EFA) has warned.
A year on from the introduction of the legislation, Sam Mercer, chief executive of the EFA, said predictions of large numbers of claims were now starting to materialise, with estimates of up to 200 per month being filed.
Ageism is a fertile ground for litigation, with about six times as many claims filed in the first year of the laws compared to the impact of the introduction of religious discrimination laws.
Mercer pointed to The Netherlands by way of example, which introduced age discrimination legislation in 2004. “If you look at what happened there, year one was quiet in terms of claims, but year two exploded – and I think that will happen in the UK,” she said.
The increase in cases would create a “juggernaut” where more and more people would feel empowered to claim for age discrimination, she said. “No employer can afford to bury their head in the sand and hope this issue will just go away.”
But research published last week by the EFA found that employers are still not abiding by the rules. Its survey of 1,000 workers revealed 59% claimed to have witnessed ageist behaviour in the workplace during the past 12 months.
Law firm Lovells said the two main demographics of those bringing age discrimination claims were the so-called ‘pale, stale and male’, and the ‘POPOs’ – those who have been ‘passed over and are pissed off’.
A survey of 166 HR directors and managers by outsourcing provider Hy-phen found less than half felt their organisation was achieving high standards of compliance with the age laws.