Mentions of age discrimination may bring to mind images of grey-haired employees being treated less favourably than their younger colleagues. As a case concerning a teenage college student showed, however, young people enjoy the same legal protection as their elders (Sangster v Honest Burgers Ltd).
The student was delighted to find his first job as a restaurant waiter. He was contracted to work 16 hours a week, later reduced to 11 hours, and objected when his manager quite often required him to work between 11pm and midnight. He explained that his college schedule did not enable him to work so late.
After reading up on his employment rights, he mentioned to his manager that he was, because of his age, entitled to a half-hour rest break during each shift. He also pointed to the statutory limit on his working hours, including night work. He said that his manager told him that his schedule was an inconvenience and that he was required to prioritise his work over his studies. He was ultimately dismissed.
Upholding his age discrimination claim, an Employment Tribunal noted that he had to be up early, and not exhausted, in order to attend college. Contrary to Section 19 of the Equality Act 2010, the requirement to work late put him at a particular disadvantage because of his age. His dismissal followed on from his assertion of his statutory rights and was thus automatically unfair.
The student said that he had taken the job in order to help out his family and to fund his way through college. The loss of his employment led to health and emotional problems and deprived him of his sense of self-worth. His employer, who did not submit a defence to his claim, was ordered to pay him a total of £11,160, including £8,500 in compensation for injury to his feelings.