Caution Needed when Advertising Vacancies
It’s been reported that a serial litigant is plaguing employers that are not cautious about job vacancies they advertise. According to The Sunday Times, 7 February, John Berry is believed to have earned thousands of pounds from his actions.
With the ease of online filing for employment tribunal claims, reports suggest at least 60 companies have been the subject of claims by Berry, based on words like “school leaver” or “recent graduate” in their job advertisements, with Berry then offering to settle the claim for various amounts.
It is easy for employers to fall foul of equality laws when advertising, and among the employment legislation they need to consider is the “Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006″. These regulations came into force on 1 October 2006, and prescribe that:
“…a person (A) discriminates against another person (B) if–
(a) on grounds of B’s age, A treats B less favourable than he treats or would treat other persons, or
(b) A applies to B a provision, criterion or practice which he applies or would apply equally to persons not of the same age group as B, but–
(i) which puts or would put persons of the same age group as B at a particular disadvantage when compared with other persons, and
(ii) which puts B at that disadvantage,
and A cannot show the treatment or, as the case may be, provision, criterion, or other practice, to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.”
While Berry has had claims struck out, the cost of responding to an employment tribunal claim would appear to persuade some employers to settle without a fight.
There are occasions when there will be a genuine occupational requirement of a vacancy pertaining to age; in the absence of this, employers should treat all applicants equally. Berry is understood not to have even applied for many of the vacancies that he went on to complain about, so while he has only had limited success, employers should exercise caution when advertising positions, and if they do face an employment tribunal claim, get professional advice on how to respond to this – for these misconceived and vexatious claims, it will often prove much cheaper to defend the claim rather than meet the unreasonable demands of people like Berry.