Offering a chair to older colleague could count as age discriminatio (2024)

Offering a chair to an older colleague at work could count as age discrimination, an employment judge has ruled.

Being given the opportunity to sit while younger staff stand could lead to 'less favourable treatment', a tribunal concluded.

It means that any employer who offers a chair to elderly workers, rather than their younger peers, could be breaking equality laws as the older person could 'legitimately conclude' they were being treated 'disadvantageously'.

The ruling came after Filipe Edreira, a 66-year-old recycling plan operative, sued Severn Waste Water Service in Worcester after he was asked to sit down during his shift.

The employee, who had worked at the company for 17 years before he was sacked in October 2023, believed his employers were trying to force him out and claimed he was being singled out as no-one else at the site used chairs.

Filipe Edreira, a 66-year-old recycling plan operative, sued Seven Waste Water Service in Worcester after he was asked to sit down during his shift. Pictured: One of the Severn Waster Water service plants

His claim was dismissed as the tribunal found the chair had been offered as colleagues were worried for his health, the tribunal in Birmingham did agree the move'unwanted conduct' that could have been discriminatory.

'Given that we found it was an unusual thing to do, in our judgment [Mr Edreira] could legitimately conclude that he was being treated differently to others and therefore disadvantageously,' Employment Judge David Faulkner said.

Of the 80 employees at the recycling plant, Mr Edreira was the only person aged over 66, although there were four over 60 and around half were 50 years of age or over.

He turned 66 on November 3, 2021, and wanted to work for another 18 months, it was heard.

In an email in July 2022, Mr Edreira - who could not carry out heavy lifting following surgery - said he had heard colleagues say they'd heard bosses 'encouraging people to retire at 66'.

He complained that in May 2022 he had been forced to move from the cabin that dealt with paper - which he had worked in for 10 years - to one which dealt with plastic.

Around the same time, his manager Idris Buraimoh 'asked him if he wanted a chair when he had not asked for one'.

The hearing was told: '[Mr Edreira] replied he did not want one. [Mr Buraimoh] did not give a reason for the offer, though there was nothing unpleasant or rude about the way in which he asked the question.

Offering a chair to an older colleague at work could count as age discrimination, an employment judge has ruled. Pictured: File photo of an older worker in a warehouse

'[Mr Edreira] told us he believes Mr Buraimoh was told to offer it - we assume by management - as part of SWS's aim to get him to leave as someone who had reached age 66.

'SWS says it is commonplace to offer appropriate support which will help employees be more comfortable at work and that chairs are routinely offered to those on light duties or feeling unwell.

'It says that because shifts are 10 hours long it is not uncommon for people to need to sit, and that chairs can also be offered long-term as an adjustment for health reasons.'

The hearing was told chairs are 'routinely offered to staff' who might find them beneficial, because of health or pregnancy, some would prefer not to use them, whilst others may use them from time to time.

However, Mr Edreira insisted employees were not allowed to sit down during their shifts and that he did not see anyone using a chair.

In July, he was wrongly issued with an AWOL letter accusing him of taking unauthorised absence from work. The same month he went off sick and in October he was sacked.

The now 68-year-old sued for age discrimination and harassment claiming the company had tried to force him out after he reached 66. However, the tribunal rejected his case.

Of the chair claim, EJ Faulkner said Mr Edreira's boss had been concerned with his health not his age.

'We concluded on balance that chairs were not routinely offered to employees in or around May 2022,' he said.

'The crucial question...was whether [Mr Edreira] had also proved facts from which we could conclude that the offer of the chair was because of age.

'[His] case was not that he was offered a chair because he was 'old' or 'older than most workers' but because he had reached age 66.

'It had never happened before and there was no explanation given for it, but we did not think that was sufficient of itself to indicate that him being over age 66 was in Mr Buraimoh's mind, consciously or otherwise, when he offered the chair.'

'We were told that Mr Buraimoh does not know why he offered the chair, but we thought that what was a much more likely explanation for the change of practice in this regard, namely that Mr Buraimoh had become aware of [his health condition] at the time of the cabin moves and offered the chair for that reason.'

Offering a chair to older colleague could count as age discriminatio (2024)


Offering a chair to older colleague could count as age discriminatio? ›

Offering a chair to an older colleague at work could count as age discrimination, an employment judge has ruled. Being given the opportunity to sit while younger staff stand could lead to 'less favourable treatment', a tribunal concluded.

What is an example of age discrimination in the workplace? ›

Q: What are examples of age discrimination at work? A: Age discrimination can involve offensive age-based verbal and visual comments, jokes, or gestures. The harasser can be a supervisor, coworker, or even someone who does not work for your employer, such as a customer.

How hard is it to prove age discrimination? ›

Proving age discrimination in hiring can be challenging but is possible through direct evidence, such as age-related comments during interviews, disparate treatment evidence showing a pattern of hiring younger employees despite older candidates being more qualified, and disparate impact evidence where policies ...

How do you identify age discrimination in the workplace? ›

Another indication of age discrimination is noticing that older employees are frequently passed over for promotion in favor of younger ones who haven't been with the company for a long time, assuming the older employees are more qualified than their younger counterparts.

What is an example of discrimination against the elderly? ›

Examples of ageism
  • refusing to hire people over or under a certain age.
  • asking for someone's age at a job interview when it is not relevant to the work.
  • enacting policies that unfairly privilege one age group over another.
  • viewing older people as out of touch, less productive, or stuck in their ways.
Nov 4, 2021

What would be considered age discrimination? ›

Under the ADEA it is unlawful to discriminate against any individual age 40 or older because of their age with respect to any term, condition, or privilege of employment, including but not limited to, recruitment, hiring, firing, promotion, layoff, compensation, benefits, job assignments, and training.

What is the most common type of age discrimination? ›

Disproportionate Hiring and Layoffs

If you notice an older employee is fired and a younger one takes their place, this could signify age discrimination. This is especially so if the older employee once in that position was great at their job and had a lot of experience.

What are the elements of proof for age discrimination? ›

To have a prima facie case of age discrimination, an employee must establish that: They are 40 years old or older (or the protected age class as defined by state statute) Their job performance is satisfactory. Adverse job action was taken against them (e.g., termination, demotion, or a pay cut)

How do you beat age discrimination? ›

How to Overcome Ageism in a Job Search
  1. — Start From Scratch. ...
  2. — Revamp Your Resume. ...
  3. — Consider Flexible Work. ...
  4. — Leverage Your Expertise. ...
  5. — Stay Up to Date. ...
  6. — Pick the Right Employer. ...
  7. — Know the Benefits of Age Diversity. ...
  8. — Watch for Interview Red Flags.

Why is age discrimination so hard to prove? ›

Although this type of bias has been around for as long as other types of workplace discrimination, ageism can be harder to prove because it can often be subtle and hard to recognize.

What is indirect age discrimination in the workplace? ›

Indirect discrimination is when a working practice, policy or rule is the same for everyone but has a worse effect on someone because of a 'protected characteristic'. By law (Equality Act 2010), protected characteristics are: age. disability.

What are the two types of age discrimination? ›

Types of Age Discrimination
  • Direct. Direct discrimination occurs when there is blatant unfair treatment for one age group or individual compared to another in a similar situation. ...
  • Indirect. ...
  • Harassment. ...
  • Victimizing. ...
  • Recognizing the Signs of Age Discrimination.
Nov 2, 2023

What jobs have the most ageism? ›

Physical or Manual Industries

In addition, jobs requiring physical labor, such as construction, manufacturing, and shipping, often have high age bias due to employers assuming that older workers are not physically capable of performing these roles effectively.

What is one word for discrimination against the elderly? ›

Ageism is a bias against, discrimination towards, or bullying of individuals and groups on the basis of their age. The term was coined in 1969 by Robert Neil Butler to describe discrimination against the elderly, patterned on the terminology of sexism and racism.

Are older workers discriminated against? ›

Roughly two-thirds of adults over 50 believe older workers face discrimination in the workplace, according to a new AARP report. Of that group, 90% believe ageism is commonplace. The finding, based on a series of surveys in 2022 and 2023, comes at a time when America's labor pool is conspicuously aging.

Why do employers discriminate against older workers? ›

Many employers using age restrictions indicate a willingness to hire "over-age" workers if they cannot get younger workers, but will not consider them on their merits if the jobs can be filled with younger workers. Some state that older workers would only be hired if their abilities exceeded those of younger workers.

What is age shaming at work? ›

It includes anything from denying applicants because they're close to retirement to giving an older employee's responsibilities to a younger worker. Ageism in workplace settings is driven by inaccurate stereotypes about older employees being slow, stubborn and inexperienced with technology.

What are the examples of age EEOC violations? ›

Age harassment can include age-based jokes or comments, offensive cartoons, drawing, symbols, or gestures, and other verbal and physical conduct based on an individual's age.

What does ageism in the workplace look like? ›

Ageism in the workplace refers to when an employee or professional receives poor treatment and is denied career opportunities because of their age. Examples include being denied a job, being fired or being viewed as unfit for a promotion due to one's age.

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