How can I make a claim for age discrimination?

It is a good idea to familiarise yourself with your employer’s policies and procedures. Most employers have Dignity at Work policies or Codes of Conduct that typically state that a ‘zero tolerance’ approach will be taken to all forms of discrimination. These policies should not just be hidden away in a dusty drawer. Your employer should be practising what they preach.

If you feel you are experiencing age-related discrimination, you may wish to bring an employment tribunal claim. If so, you should normally begin with a formal complaint using your employer's grievance procedure. However, it's important to note that tribunal time limits are very strict and very short – usually just three months. You must not delay starting your claim because your employer's grievance procedure hasn't been completed. If you do delay, and as a result you miss the deadline, a tribunal is very unlikely to agree to hear your claim.

You have a legal right to be accompanied by a work colleague or a trade union official to a grievance meeting.

As you will need to support your case by providing specific examples of where you feel discrimination has taken place, you should keep a record of instances of discrimination and when they occurred. You should also keep a copy of any evidence, such as age discriminatory cards or Facebook posts.

If you suspect your employer has discriminated against you but you want to feel more secure in your judgement before taking it further, you can ask your employer questions about your treatment. The Acas guide, Asking and responding to questions of discrimination in the workplace (PDF, 164KB) explains how to go about this.

You should always seek individual legal advice before making a claim. Talk to your union if you are a member, to get an expert opinion on your case.

The first step in any tribunal claim is now to contact Acas for early conciliation. You do this by submitting an Acas Early Conciliation Notification Form. You can find out more information about Acas Early Conciliation. Acas early conciliation is free of charge.

You must submit the Acas Early Conciliation Form within the three-month time limit for bringing your claim. Otherwise your claim will be out of time and the tribunal will not be able to consider it. Tribunal deadlines are short and are strictly enforced. Only rarely do tribunals agree to extend the deadline if you miss it.

For more information about bringing a tribunal claim, including information about Acas early conciliation, see our Enforcing Your Rights section.

Many age-related issues at work that impact negatively on different groups of workers have a clear collective dimension. Rather than launching an individual grievance or starting a tribunal claim on your own, you will often be better off organising together with your colleagues to try to resolve it, for example through a collective grievance, and if appropriate, through group tribunal litigation.

There are lots of reasons why tackling this kind of issue together is better than going it alone. Unions are expert at organising together to address equality issues at work, particularly attacks on terms and conditions of employment. Contact your union to see how best to organise around the issue. If you are not a member of a union, use our Union Finder tool to find the best one for you.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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