Age was not decisive

Back
Categories
HR News
Date:
16 Jan 2017

as there was only slightly more employees aged +50 among those who had been made redundant, the danish board of equal treatment did not find any reason to believe that age had been a factor in the selection criteria.

By:
Søren Eeg Hansen

As there was only slightly more employees aged +50 among those who had been made redundant, the Danish Board of Equal Treatment did not find any reason to believe that age had been a factor in the selection criteria.

Employers are not allowed to take age into account in the selection criteria for redundancy. If an ‎affected employee is able to show that there is reason to presume that age has been a factor in the ‎employer's decision, it is for the employer to disprove that presumption. In this case, the question ‎before the Danish Board of Equal Treatment was whether a consultant who had been made redundant ‎together with many other employees had been discriminated against on grounds of age.‎

The complaint was lodged by a 61-year-old consultant who worked in a media organisation. The media ‎organisation was required to cut costs, which meant that 101 employees were given notice of ‎redundancy. Out of the 101 employees under notice, 34 ended up being made redundant while the rest ‎of them accepted a severance agreement or were redeployed to other positions in the organisation. ‎

In the consultant's department two other employees aged 41 and 53, respectively, were also dismissed. ‎The consultant believed that age had been a factor in the selection criteria as far as he himself was ‎concerned and therefore lodged a complaint with the Board of Equal Treatment.‎

A slight overweight
Before the Board, the consultant submitted that he had in effect been selected because of his age, ‎producing statistics to show that in the group of employees aged 19-35 no-one had been given notice, in ‎the group aged 36-45 approximately 0.5% had been given notice, in the group aged 46-50 1.5% had been ‎given notice, in the group aged 51-60 approximately 3% had been given notice and in the group aged 61-‎‎70 2% had been given notice. ‎

The Board accepted that there was a slight overweight of employees aged +50 among those affected by ‎the redundancies, but did not believe that this was a sufficiently significant share to create a ‎presumption that age had been a factor in the employer's selection criteria. Nor did the age of those ‎who had been notified of redundancy compared with the age of those who had not indicate that there ‎had been any unlawful age discrimination. Accordingly, the Board did not allow the complaint.‎

 

Norrbom Vinding notes

  • that, depending on the circumstances of each individual case, statistical data may serve to create a ‎presumption that age has been a factor in an employer's selection criteria; but
  • that the Danish Supreme Court established on an earlier occasion that this will require the statistical ‎data produced to be reliable and sufficiently significant.‎

Norrbom Vinding represented the employer before the Board of Equal Treatment.‎