The BBC has announced it will positively seek to recruit a female newsreader over the age of 50, sparking claims the corporation’s actions could be seen as ageist and sexist.
The corporation has confirmed director general Mark Thompson asked news director Helen Boaden to find the presenter in an attempt to “represent a wide range of ages and backgrounds”.
But Jill Andrew, an employment lawyer at Dawsons Solicitors, warned the BBC could be opening itself up to tribunal claims for age and sex discrimination.
She said: “If these reports are true, then the BBC may be flouting both age and sex discrimination laws.
“Employers simply cannot specify that they are looking for someone of a particular gender or age as it appears the BBC has done. A young, up and coming male news reader could have every right to feel aggrieved at this apparent news.”
She added if a claim was lodged against the BBC for sex or age discrimination, they could receive “a hefty bill”.
“There is no compensation ceiling for discrimination cases. Should the BBC find itself in front of an employment tribunal, they and ultimately the taxpayer could face a hefty bill,” said Andrew.
The BBC recently faced accusations of ageism after 66-year-old Arlene Phillips was replaced as a Strictly Come Dancing judge by 30-year-old Alesha Dixon.
A spokesman for the BBC said: “We are always looking to make sure we have the best presenters on BBC News – representing a wide range of ages and backgrounds.”