Age discrimination

Age discrimination is defined as a situation where ‘a person is treated less favourably than another is, has been or would be treated in a comparable situation’ on the grounds of age (direct discrimination) or where ‘an apparently neutral provision, criterion or practice would put persons having […] a particular age […] at a particular disadvantage compared with other persons’ according to the so-called ‘employment equality directive’ (2000/78/EC). Both direct and indirect discrimination and harassment on the basis of age are outlawed by this directive in the field of employment, unless these practices are ‘objectively justified by a legitimate aim’ and are appropriate, proportionate and necessary. Discrimination can happen also ‘by association’, if a person is discriminated not because of her own criteria, but because of her association bearing a criteria for discrimination: for example, if a young person is not promoted because she is living with an older person in need for care. Age discrimination exists both against younger and against older persons. The EU legislation only provides for protection against age discrimination in matters of employment. The so-called ‘horizontal directive’ or ‘equal treatment’ directive aims to enlarge this protection to the provision of goods and services and has been proposed in 2008; however, the directive is still blocked by Member States in the Council of Ministers.

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