Middle Aged Need Not Apply

In the last year, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has received over 100 complaints about discriminatory advertisements including:

  • Age discrimination – a recruitment agency advert stated that over 45s need not apply
  • Disability discrimination – a hotel said it would not offer accommodation to disabled people
  • Sexual orientation – another hotel said that it wouldn’t allow same sex couples to stay in a room together
  • Sex discrimination – a bar advertised for a “part-time shot girl”

Discriminatory advertising is often overlooked in the area of discrimination law yet the EHCR has warned that thousands of people could be at risk of being denied jobs each year due to unlawful advertising.

The Equality Act 2010 prohibits employers from discriminating on any of the nine protected grounds, such as age, disability or gender reassignment, when deciding who to offer employment.

Some principal recommendations in the EHRC’s good guidance practice are:

  • When recruiting, include an equal opportunity statement to make it clear that applicants are welcome from all suitably qualified or experienced people.
  • Avoid words implying a restriction on those who may apply such as “young”, “physically active” or “cameraman.”
  • If there is a real occupational requirement for an applicant to have a protected characteristic, for example for a female to work in a women’s refuge, this must be objectively justifiable.

Employers can face two potential actions if they place a discriminatory advert. A tribunal may award monetary damages to an unsuccessful applicant or a person who is genuinely deterred from applying and / or enforcement action may be taken by the EHRC even if no one has actually complained.

If you would like to discuss the wording of any advertisement for a new employee, the issue of a particular occupational requirement or indeed any employment matter, please contact Hugh Grant (hjg@mitchells-roberton.co.uk) or Paul Neilly (pdn@mitchells-roberton.co.uk) or telephone 0141 552 3422.

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About Paul Neilly

Paul’s first degree was a BA Honours in Financial Services following which he spent five years working for a large insurance company as a pensions specialist. He then completed his law degree at the University of Strathclyde and Diploma in Legal Practice at the Glasgow Graduate School of Law. Paul subsequently joined Mitchells Roberton as a trainee in July 2006 and qualified as a solicitor in September 2008. Principally concerned with civil litigation, Paul specialises in contract disputes, landlord and tenant issues (commercial and residential), debt recovery, family law, employment law and personal injury claims. He also handles cases involving Adults with Incapacity. Paul regularly appears in the Sheriff Courts throughout Scotland and has experience of appearing before Licensing Boards and instructing matters in the Court of Session. Being a general civil litigator Paul is keenly aware of the need to keep step with developments in the law and legal education. This led Paul to join the committee of TANQ, the Trainee and Newly Qualified Society of the Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow, in which role Paul currently organises seminars and networking events for its members. Paul is married with a young son and daughter. In his spare time he enjoys cooking, reading and watching sport, particularly following the exploits of the national football and rugby teams, although this is more of a vocation than a source of enjoyment.

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