As we reported here, the Employment Tribunal saw another rise in the number of age discrimination claims. The number of claims increased by 131% over last three years (from 2,949 to 6,800) whereas other discrimination claims (sex (excluding equal pay), race, disability, religion and sexual orientation) have declined by 16% over same period.

Age is now the third most common claim after sex and disability (just behind disability). It is more common than race whilst religion and sexual orientation claims seem pretty rare.

The rapid increase may arise from increased public awareness of their rights. This pattern mirrors the experience of disability discrimination laws which came into force 15 years ago. Back then, claims were surprisingly low at first but increased steadily as people became more aware of their rights.

The future of age discrimination claims

In the future, we predict the number of age discrimination claims will continue to increase and match, or come close to matching, the number of sex discrimination claims (18,300 last year). Both often arise from stereotypical views of what people can do, whereas race, sexual orientation and religion generally arise from prejudice.

The current available data covers 06/07 to 10/11 and shows a clear pattern. Data for 11/12 onwards is a prediction.

As the US has had anti age discrimination laws since 1967, we used data to estimate a possible ‘endpoint’ after the number of age discrimination claims has stopped growing.

Last year there were 23,264 age discrimination based cases filed with the EEOC (the body responsible for the enforcement of discrimination laws) compared to 29,029 sex discrimination based cases.

If the ratio of age discrimination claims to sex discrimination claims in the UK followed the same ratio (which is logical after a period of time) they would increase to approximately 14,800.

Assuming that the increase in claims continues to grow at a similar rate as previous years and no measures are taken that would have a big impact upon either the number of age discrimination claims (or all Employment Tribunal claims generally), this number would be reached within the next 5 years.