Advice on dealing with unfair treatment when applying for a job

I recently applied for a job at a local pub which offered National Minimum Wage.

The manager asked me how old I was. After telling her I was 25 she told me it would be unlikely I’d get the job because they wouldn’t be able to afford to pay me the required wage and they wanted someone younger.

Is this legal?

Nobody should ask you how old you are in a job interview. Being 25, you’re entitled to the National Living Wage. On the Citizens Advice website there are full details of the wages people are entitled to by law. But these rules shouldn’t mean employers avoid hiring people because of how old they are. That’s known as ‘direct age discrimination’ in the Equality Act 2010. You’re also protected by the National Minimum Wage Act 1998, which says employers can’t refuse to employ you, or fire you, just because your age means you’re entitled to a higher rate.

We have a lot of information on our website about what to do if you’re being treated unfairly when applying for a job. If you’ve been discriminated against, there are steps you can take to either get compensation or convince the person to give you a job.

Make a note of what happened as soon as you can – write down exactly what you were asked and any other remarks the interviewer made. Next, you should write a letter of complaint to the employer. Keep a copy of this letter. There’s advice on the Citizens Advice website on what this letter should include and you can also speak to an adviser at your local Citizens Advice to get help writing it.

If the letter doesn’t get an outcome you’re happy with, you could take the employer to an employment tribunal. You’ll need as much evidence of discrimination as possible. Evidence should include the job advert, the job description, your notes about what was said at the interview and any contact you’ve had with the employer since – like your complaint letter. 

Remember that you only have three months minus one day from the date that the ‘discriminatory act’ (in this case, the comments in your interview) happened to start tribunal proceedings. You do this by contacting the government organisation Acas and telling them that you intend to bring a claim.

Nobody should have to worry about being discriminated against when job hunting. For more advice on your rights when searching for work, visit or call South Lakes Citizens Advice on 015394 46464

Free, confidential advice and help is available from South Lakes Citizens Advice on any aspect of debt, consumer problems, benefits, housing, employment or any other problems. South Lakes Citizens Advice, your local charity, is here for you. How to access:

  • Call 015394 46464 – this is being staffed from 9:30 – 2pm 
  • Adviceline: 0808 2787 984 
  • Help to Claim (Universal Support): 0800 144 8 444