A few months ago I was offered the opportunity to apply for a role at a bigger company than where I currently work. Everything went well, they were impressed from what the recruitment consultant told me, and he also mentioned that they were having trouble finding candidates with the particular skill set they were looking for (it was quite a technical role).

They wanted me to travel to their office about 45 miles away for a full formal interview, but about two days before the recruitment consultant called to tell me while they were impressed, they had discovered my age and "couldn't justify" the £45,000 salary they had been so keen to hype about, and that because of my young age they had reduced the offering to £25,000 to do exactly the same role.

I exceeded the requirement for length of experience working with the product they wanted me to administer by about a third, and have managed others in large projects involving it before. I politely said that offering was not enough to make me leave my current role to take a job much further away, but thank you for the opportunity.

Anyway, recently another recruitment consultancy has been in touch about the same job with the same company. I don't want to start bad-mouthing them to the consultant, but I feel like I have been discriminated against by this employer. It's not as if they retracted their offer altogether, and I am quite young to be classed as experienced in this field. Does what has transpired count under the legal definition of discrimination? They didn't employ me to start with and they didn't retract the offer, but 20k is a heavy amount to reduce a salary by based on age considering they were supposedly impressed.


Call the following:


They will give you sensible and impartial advice and will be able to comment if you have been discriminated against in the interview process


Note that it was the "recruitment consultant" that told you what he claims is the reason ("young age"). Unless you can prove that actually the company itself said this, then you don't have any evidence of age discrimination.

It could be that the company said "because of lack of experience" and the recruitment consultant translated this. But do you think a 45 year old who moved to a new profession just recently and doesn't have more experience than you would get a higher offer? Probably not. And while a company may be quite willing to discriminate for whatever reason, they will usually be very careful to make any statement that gives you evidence. So I sincerely doubt that the company gave "young age" as the reason.

  • 3
    I see regularly see engineers being paid more than younger engineers, doing a worse job and demonstrating a smaller skill set. Useful experience is very important (and hard to measure) but years are not experience.
    – Gusdor
    Mar 31 '16 at 13:12
  • Even if it was the consultant, the reason given makes it discrimination. Maybe they felt they couldn't justify the salary due to the questioner's age, but that just makes the consultant liable rather than the company.
    – user
    Jul 31 '16 at 1:14
  • @ゼーロ - But the consultant didn't discriminate. He told you that the client did discriminate, which is either true or false. In neither case did the consultant discriminate. If he didn't pass your CV on because he hates young people, or old people, or middle-aged people, then he would have been discriminating.
    – gnasher729
    Aug 12 '17 at 18:56

If the deciding factor for the company to reduce the offered pay is your age, then yes, you were discriminated based on your age.

The thing however that needs to be taken into account is whether it is truly the age that they are looking at or whether it's your years of experience. Fact is, a 25 year old employee "can" be just as good or maybe have MORE experience than for example a 50 year old employee. There will still be differences however.

If this company mentions to you that they wanted an older employee because he will have more experience in working in general (non-related work) then this would result in you "not" being discriminated against based on age. However if they offer a lower salary based on the policy or belief that younger employers should be paid less. Then yes, you are being discriminated against.

They gave an offer towards an employee who met and exceeded the criteria they were asking for. To fall back from this based just on a person's age is in my opinion immoral and unethical.

Can you actually do something against this? I don't know but I'm leaning towards no. Nevertheless you should look for advice from professionals/experts on this matter as @JJosaur suggested in his answer.

  • In the spec, they said "a minimum of two years" experience working with this particular product. I have just over 3 and a half years, so it's possible they realised they had underestimated what they actually were looking for in the specification, but I had no further contact directly with them after the (external) recruitment consultant told me (in his words) "based on your age, they've said they can't justify the salary offering we previously spoke about", so it seems like quite a grey area and I may stick with my original plan which was to just accept it and move on.
    – leylandski
    Mar 31 '16 at 9:19
  • 2
    then yes, you were discriminated based on your age. - This statement needs backed up by an explanation that covers why (legally) this meets the bar of discrimination, or a link to a source that covers the same. Your opinion on the ethics is irrelevant to the question. your admitting you do not know if they can do anything legally means you probably should have avoided answering this question. Mar 31 '16 at 14:38
  • @Chad All it needs is a definition of the word discrimination. dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/discrimination your point about it needing a reason why it covers the "legal" bar of discrimination is moot. In this particular case it's a very simple and clear yes or no case. Legal matters only come in to place on the severity of the discrimination, not whether it had taken place, yes or no. and that is where the reference towards experts come into place. You should not confuse definitions and facts with legal occurrences.
    – Migz
    Apr 1 '16 at 5:33
  • @Chad furthermore, This is the workplace, legal issues do not belong on this forum. I do not know the legal course of action, however I did point him in the direction to where he could find this. What I DID do, was give an answer to his question, which was whether it was discrimination or not. furthermore, ethics is opinion based. There is no such thing as "This is 100% (un)ethical". Also, whether it's useful to the topic is objective. If every question had a yes/no answer then we wouldn't need politics.
    – Migz
    Apr 1 '16 at 5:42
  • 1
    @Migz - Actually legal items that our experts can be expected to have knowledge of are on topic. And we have an expectation that answers will be complete especially when making statements like "you have been discriminated against" You failed there. Thanks for playing feel free to pick up a parting gift on your way out. Apr 1 '16 at 15:20

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