'You don't look it' | Domino's Pizza store asked for job candidate's age - an error HR can learn from

Domino's Pizza store asked for job candidate's age - an error HR can learn from

A woman has received a pay out of more than £4,000 after interviewers at a Domino’s Pizza branch asked for her age during an interview.

As reported by the BBC, Janice Walsh believed she was ultimately turned down for the role at pizza chain’s branch in Strabane, Northern Ireland, because of her age and sex.

She subsequently launched a discrimination case against the franchisee Justin Quirk, who has now paid her £4,250 and issued an apology.

Since the incident, the store has been under new management, though the firm said Quirk’s departure was unrelated to this incident.

Speaking to the BBC, Walsh reported the first question she was asked during her interview was about her age.

She said the interviewer wrote down her answer, circled it and said: "You don't look it."

Walsh later found out she had been rejected for the role, adding that she “immediately thought back to the interview and the question about my age.

"I believe my age was an issue and it had affected the decision made by the interview panel”, she told the broadcaster.

Walsh later contacted the store on social media, telling them that she believed she had been discriminated against because of her age.

A member of the interview panel contacted her and apologised, while also explaining that they didn’t know it was inappropriate to ask someone their age during a job interview.

Walsh felt she was also discriminated against based on her sex. She told the BBC: "I've only ever seen men working as drivers and I think I was overlooked for a driver position because I am a woman.

"Domino's continued to advertise for drivers after the interviews had taken place."

Walsh was supported in her case by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.

Mary Kitson, senior legal officer at the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (the body which assisted Walsh with her legal case), said it was important employers to be aware of the laws over age and gender discrimination.

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"People involved in recruitment and selection should be familiar with how people are protected by the legislation in order to keep the employer on the right side of the law," she said.

"It's really important not to allow stereotypical views of who can do particular jobs to influence decisions."

A spokesperson for Domino's said store recruitment was the responsibility of the franchisee.

They said: "We pride ourselves on being an inclusive business with a diverse work force and we recognise the important role we play in the communities we serve."

Age discrimination in the workplace

According to Ciphr, more than 1 in 10 adults in the UK (11%) say they feel that their age has been a discriminating factor in the workplace and more than 1 in 20 (5.7%) believe they’ve suffered workplace discrimination based on their age.

Furthermore, statistics from the Ministry of Justice found that 3,668 complaints of age discrimination were made to employment tribunals in 2020, a 74% rise from 2,112 in 2019, which marked the largest rise of any type of work-related complaint.

What the law says

As CIPD states, age discrimination has been illegal in the UK since 2006, with the law now incorporated into the Equality Act 2010.

Under this act, age is one of the nine protected characteristics covered by equality legislation. Employers and hiring managers should be aware of the risk of age discrimination occurring in particular workplace activities such as the hiring process.

People of all ages can be affected, including younger and older workers, and the growing number of older people in employment makes this group a key focus.

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According to workers’ union Unison, younger candidates experience age discrimination such as being belittled, passed over for jobs or paid poorly because they are young and deemed inexperienced.

Andrew Secker, Employment Lawyer and Partner at Mills & Reeve, previously told HR Grapevine that ageism “does somewhat appear to be the acceptable face of discrimination for many”.

"With the UK’s workforce aging, we have more generations in the workplace than ever before. Employers will need to address this as part of managing a diverse workforce or else risk facing claims of a similar type,” Secker said.

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