Age stereotyping: a legal and fieldwork analysis

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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to report on fieldwork observation of direct age discrimination cases within employment tribunal hearings over a 3 year period. The observation focussed upon whether the witness evidence revealed age stereotyping by employers and whether the employment tribunal panel addressed the stereotyping in its questioning and in its judgments. The observation was combined with an analysis of jurisprudence relating to direct age discrimination over an 11 year period.

Design/methodology/approach – This research analysed a sample of 90 employment tribunal judgments concerning direct age discrimination, which included 5 fieldwork observation cases concerning direct age discrimination in an employment tribunal.

Findings – This paper opens a window on age stereotyping in the workplace, illuminating the existence of age stereotypes in the context of employment tribunals and the approach of the courts towards stereotypes in the sample is analysed.

Research limitations/implications - The fieldwork observation is limited to one employment tribunal and may not necessarily be representative of all tribunals however the findings are supported by a wider qualitative analysis of ET Judgments.

Practical Implications – The article provides pertinent learning outcomes for claimants, employers and key implications of legal decisions for human resource policy and practice in organisations.

Originality/Value –The paper is the first to conduct fieldwork observation on age stereotyping in an employment tribunal, combined with a profile of direct age discrimination claims over the period studied.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485-504
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Law and Management
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 23 Oct 2019


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