43 - and finished?

23 Feb 2011

rejecting a candidate on grounds of age should cost eur 3,400. so the danish board of equal treatment held in this case.

Rejecting a candidate on grounds of age should cost EUR 3,400. So the Danish Board of Equal Treatment held in this case.
Basically, employers are entitled to decide which employees they wish to employ. But not without exception. For one thing, employers are not allowed to make age a factor in recruitment. This can be seen from this case from the Danish Board of Equal Treatment.
A 43-year-old applied for a job as an IT worker, but was rejected for the following reason: ‘Unfortunately, you fall outside of our group in terms of age as we have a team of young people below 30 and they would like the new team member to be of the same age.’
The 43-year-old became angry and replied in an email: '... but I would like to point out that it is actually illegal to discriminate in recruitment on grounds of age ... which can of course be reported to the police and may result in a fine. Not that I am going to, I have already wasted enough time writing the application.’
On the other hand ...
The 43-year-old left it at that. But then he became aware of his rights under the Danish Anti-Discrimination Act and filed a complaint with the Danish Board of Equal Treatment.
The employer did not believe that there was any substance to the complaint – after all, the 43-year-old had said in his email that he would not pursue the matter. The Board, however, did not share this view. Since the only reason mentioned in the rejection letter was his age, this was a case of direct discrimination and he was therefore awarded about EUR 3,400 in compensation. The fact that he had written in his email that he would not pursue the matter was of no importance.


Norrbom Vinding notes

  • that the decision shows that it is extremely difficult for employers to disprove age discrimination where there is a written rejection which expressly mentions the applicant’s age as the reason for the rejection; and

  • that the decision also shows that whether there are good business reasons for preferring a candidate of a particular age is without importance to the Board’s assessment.