Fabio Capello surprised many with his comments that David Beckham is now too old for international football and is unlikely to be selected for the England side again, but is Beckham in fact a victim of age discrimination?
Capello made the comments to journalists prior to England’s friendly match against Hungary when questioned on the likelihood of Beckham returning to the England team.
Regardless of the footballing argument, this raises issues in the field of discrimination and Forbes solicitors has spoken out warning employers of the risks of discriminating staff members, England footballers or not, on the grounds of their age.
Jonathan Holden, Employment Law expert at Forbes Solicitors comments: “Every employer has a legal responsibility not to discriminate against employees and workers on grounds of age. In this situation, failing to select someone on grounds of age could be potentially discriminatory. The only defence to such a claim would be for the employer to show that this can be objectively justified. In this situation the employer would therefore have to demonstrate the selection of players on grounds of age was a legitimate method of producing more favourable results. However, in practice this can be very difficult to do.”
Whilst it is unlikely that any football player would bring a claim on grounds of age, this nevertheless highlights the potential pitfalls open to employers. Compensation for discrimination claims is unlimited and therefore it is important that all employers are aware of their rights and responsibilities in this complicated area.
For assistance in dealing with the ever changing field of discrimination law, please contact Jonathan Holden at Forbes on 01254 54374.