Is it discrimination under UK law to advertise an opportunity for artists under a certain age?

An opportunity states that it is only open to artists under or over a certain age. Is this discriminatory under UK law?

UK equal opportunities legislation exists alongside various EU Directives and policies that are applicable to the laws of all Member States. Age is one of various ‘protected characteristics‘ that make it illegal to discriminate against people with one or more of these properties.

Such legislation is varied and complex, and applies only to circumstances specified by that legislation – the obvious one, with most relevance to this situation, being employment recruitment procedures.

In order to assess whether any equal opportunites legislation applies, the circumstances of each particular opportunity case needs to be examined.

In the case of artists’ opportunities, unless they are applying for employment it is highly unlikely that such legislation would apply.

Although not related to age, a discrimination case involving an artist went to UK Employment Tribunal, claiming discrimination by Tate on religious grounds (another ‘protected characteristic’ under equalities legislation). He lost that case, and appealed to an Employment Appeal Tribunal, where he also lost. The Tribunal decided that since this was a claim by a freelance contractor, it did not have legal jurisdiction to hear the case.

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This article is from the Artlaw Archive of Henry Lydiate's columns published in Art Monthly since 1976, and may contain out of date material. The article is for information only, and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Readers should consult a solicitor for legal advice on specific matters. Artists can get free online legal information from Artquest.