Divided by a Common Language: Why the British Adoption of the American Anti-Discrimination Model Did Not Lead to an Identical Approach to Age Discrimination Law
Timothy S. Kaye
Stetson University College of Law
Journal of International Aging, Law & Policy, Vol. 4, 2009
Stetson University College of Law Research Paper No. 2009-013
The federal Civil Rights Act 1964 and the Supreme Court's decision in the case of Griggs v. Duke Power (which outlawed so-called disparate impact discrimination) were effectively the source of anti-discrimination laws within the United Kingdom just as much as within the United States. They led to the creation of a template for British anti-discrimination laws containing the following core elements:
(i) a definition of discrimination as 'less favourable' treatment;
(ii) the establishment of a public agency responsible for the oversight and enforcement of anti-discrimination legislation;
(iii) a defense of 'genuine occupational qualification' focused on the objective requirements for a job and not on the state of mind of the employer; and
(iv) a recognition and definition of disparate impact discrimination as well as of disparate treatment discrimination and victimization.
Yet while age discrimination was prohibited within the U.S. by the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (A.D.E.A.) within just three years of the Civil Rights Act, the U.K. only expressly prohibited age discrimination in late 2006. Moreover, the U.K. did not follow the A.D.E.A., but instead applied its now-standard template to age discrimination law. As a result, British age discrimination law protects all workers (and not just those over the age of 40), as well as prohibiting disparate impact discrimination just as much as discrimination by disparate treatment. In the area of age discrimination law, therefore, the U.K. now gives effect more accurately to the aspirations behind the U.S. Civil Rights Act than federal U.S. law currently does.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 82
Keywords: Discrimination Law, Age Discrimination, Civil Rights, Employment Law
Date posted: March 21, 2009 ; Last revised: March 31, 2015