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Too old? Too young? Age is one of the six characteristcs proteceted by the General Equal Treatment Act.

Nobody shall be discriminated against because of his or her age. However, according to a Forsa-Survey, every fifth person experienced discrimination on the ground of age. The General Act on Equal Treatment (German abbreviation: AGG) prohibits discrimination on grounds of age. The ban is related to every age, so that both the unequal treatment of older and of younger persons is prohibited.

For example, pay regulations that are exclusively linked to age, and automatically take effect with increased age, represent a case of discrimination with regard to younger employees.A distinction between old and young is much more difficult than differentiating between women and men or Catholic and Muslim, for example. Accordingly, the implementation of the AGG provisions with regard to age as a ground for discrimination is often difficult. The AGG foresees extensive options for justification in cases were unequal treatment is a result of age. Thus, it is possible to provided targeted support for young people in order to integrate them into a trade or profession. Determining a minimum age in order to benefit older employees can also be justified.

FAQs on age

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Experiencing discrimination means to be disadvantaged without any factual reason. For example, a job advertisement reading “Searching for an employee aged 25 to 45 years for a team leader position“ excludes older persons seeking employment.

  • Discrimination based on age can occur in different ways: As an insulting comment or as age restrictions. For example, if only people below or above a certain age are entitled to promotion or training.

  • Both younger and older people can experience discrimination based on age. For example, in comparison to their older colleagues, young employees with work experience might receive less pay or holidays, are underestimated or overlooked when it comes to promotion because “their time is yet to come”.

  • Every fifth person in Germany has already experienced discrimination on the grounds of age and often people consider it as normal. One of the reasons for that is the high level of acceptance of unequal treatment on the basis of age.

  • According to the General Act on Equal Treatment, discrimination on the grounds of age is illegal. The law also prohibits discrimination on the grounds of racism or ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual identity, gender and disability.

    However, often people are discriminated against because of a combination of the grounds mentioned above. This is called “multiple discrimination” or “intersectional discrimination”. For example, young women are disadvantaged in job application processes because of a potential pregnancy.

  • The General Act on Equal Treatment applies in employment and occupations, in bulk business and in the context insurances under private law.

  • If you have been discriminated against according to the General Act on Equal Treatment, you are entitled to compensation.

  • Unfortunately, the law sets tight deadlines when it comes to claims for compensation. Within two months after the incident, you have to tell the accused person about your demands in written form.

  • Many people are not aware of how to react appropriately or whom they shall approach after having experienced discrimination on the grounds of age.

    Within the working context, the company‘s complaints office, the works council and the staff council serve as a contact points. Otherwise, the Federal Antidiscrimination Agency is pleased to help you. Our counselling team will give you an initial legal assessment and can supply information on your rights.

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