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To ask you if this sounds like age discrimination in the workplace?

(22 Posts)
RainbowPancake Tue 04-Mar-14 13:33:15

My 18 year old DD has recently started a full time job in an office. It is a large open plan office with about 15 staff in it. DD is the youngest person there, with the next youngest person being in their late 20s. One Manager is in charge of the entire team based in the office.

On DD's first day, she was told in no uncertain terms that she is not allowed to eat or drink at her desk. Her boss's reason for this is that in the past when they've had 'young people' working in the office they have eaten constantly at the desk and it looks untidy and scruffy. However, DD says that every single other person is allowed to eat and drink at their desk. DD is not allowed to based simply upon her age! She doesn't want to eat meals at her desk but it would be nice for her to be able to have a cup of tea at her desk, rather than standing in the kitchen, or for her to be able to have a snack at her desk occasionally. She said that some of the other staff even go and get Macdonalds and KFC meals in their lunchbreaks and bring them back to eat at the desk! She has asked her boss about it and said that it is unfair, but the answer is still a "No" for her.

Secondly, there is a clocking in clock in reception, and DD has been told, again by her boss, that she is to clock in each morning and go straight through to the office and not chat to the receptionist at all, even if it is before office opening times. This is again because the previous 'young lady' that did her job apparently stood around talking in reception for ages. However, everyone else from the office is allowed to stand in reception chatting, sometimes during working hours for over half an hour, and nothing is said to them about it! DD doesn't want to stand around chatting all day, but says she feels constantly under scrutiny and that she has got tougher rules than the other staff, despite them all being on the same level, because of her age.

She says that she is also often asked to make the tea for team meetings, again because she is the youngest staff member. It is not an office junior post, and there was no mention of tea making at her interview. She is just made to do it because of her age.

Is this age discrimination? What is the best way for DD to deal with it? Thanks in advance

MyNameIsKenAdams Tue 04-Mar-14 13:38:33

Tbh id made the round of teas, dish them out at the desks and sit at my own desk with mine and, if questioned, ask loudly "why am I not permitted when everyone else is?" And await the response.

NearTheWindymill Tue 04-Mar-14 13:39:53

No it isn't age discrimination but it does sound like bullying. Having said that it sounds as though all of the rest of the staff are abusing the rules. Is there a dining area for hot food.

It sounds a bit as though the manager is trying to instill good habits in your dd but that should be the case for all the staff.

CMOTDibbler Tue 04-Mar-14 13:41:02

I think, tbh, she should just get on with it, obey her bosses wishes and show that she can be a reliable employee.
Arguing about reasonable requests, in your first job at 18 doesn't do you any good at all.

yourlittlesecret Tue 04-Mar-14 13:43:19

I think age discrimination only applies at the recruitment stage.
Making the tea - I think she should accept that and do it with a smile.
The rest I would wait a few weeks and prove how reliable and hard working she is, then go back to the boss and ask him to reconsider.
Causing a fuss during her first few days at work won't get things off to a good start.

burchell Tue 04-Mar-14 13:53:37

Yes, not allowing her to eat at her desk because of her age when other employees are allowed to do so is very likely to be unlawful age discrimination. Same for the reception chatting thing.

The tea-making thing is bit more of a grey area - perhaps they usually make the newest/most junior employee do this, which might be justifiable.

But raising these issues is anything but the gentlest terms is not likely to help DD progress. I suggest she leaves it for a few months until she is established / valued / out of her probationary period and then raises it gently with her manager (mentioning that it really doesn't seem fair). If the manager is unwilling to revise the policy then, I suggest she looks for a new job.

NoodleOodle Tue 04-Mar-14 14:10:00

She's on probation, she should follow the rules. The other employees have probably earned the right to be a bit more free and autonomous in their working patterns by consistently demonstrating efficient work. You daughter will never get to that stage if she can't even obey the rules during the first few weeks.

I don't see this as an age discrimination thing, more a trust thing from the manager. Trust is earned, I'd suggest to her that she keep to the rules and demonstrate an ability to work autonomously before asking for that privilege. If I were her manager I would consider it inappropriate for her to have asked to work outside of the clearly stated rules, more than once.

Finickynotfussy Tue 04-Mar-14 14:13:12

A flask maybe for tea?

She's evidently being punished for heinous things the last young employee did, which is very unfair.

AramintaDeWinter Tue 04-Mar-14 14:26:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WilsonFrickett Tue 04-Mar-14 14:34:50

It does sound like she is being discriminated against, but sometimes people get strange ideas in their head about 'training up' the next generation. It sounds like that last employee met the boss's stereotype of what a work-shy entitled teen would be like and he's coming down hard on your DD.

Now, of course that isn't fair. But if she makes a fuss then I suspect he'll think he was right all along and make life even less pleasant for her. If she likes the job, and all other things are equal, then I suspect she will have to suck it up, prove her worth, then challenge it.

All that said, I'm perfectly fine with her making the tea. Even if she is not the office junior, she's still the most junior person in the office...

missmarplestmarymead Tue 04-Mar-14 18:31:03

I think she would be very foolish to make a big deal of this if she has only recently taken this post. Of course, the most junior makes the tea and when she has proved herself, then it is perfectly reasonable to assume these rules will relax.

When the next junior comes in and she is no longer the youngest, then she will no longer be the one asked to make tea.

unfortunately, the rules of school (where she may find that saying something is unfair warrants an inquiry) don't usually apply in the workplace where it can tend to be a case of FIFO.


PlumpPartridge Tue 04-Mar-14 18:36:37

Yanbu to ask! It does sound like typical distrust of the 'yoof' to me. Unfortunately the only way out is through, past the probationary period. Keep calm till then is my advice.

Nomama Tue 04-Mar-14 18:40:54

It's one of those things, isn't it?

We (older bods) know that they (younger bods) have no work ethic and need to be taught how to work. So we patronise them and make up rules to ensure that they get into good habits.

They (younger bods) reckon they can do the job, thanks. They may not see the invisible jobs that get done by someone (older bods) and so never think that they should take a turn... and older bods get proved correct!

In the righteous world your daughter could have one conversation about this and achieve parity. But in the real world she probably has to suck it up, learn the ropes and wait for the next younger bod to be recruited!

That's how it worked when I started, anyway!

poorbuthappy Tue 04-Mar-14 18:42:20

What if she was the only woman in the office and that was why?
Or if she was the only black person?

Wouldn't matter then if she'd been there an hour or a decade would it.

Our youngsters don't have a chance do they.

Nomama Tue 04-Mar-14 18:44:40

Erm.... I don't think that everything can be equated to being black or female. Sometimes, people are just people!

As someone else said, out here in the real world 'fair' doesn't always apply - and it certainly isn't always actionable!

HermioneWeasley Tue 04-Mar-14 18:46:54

YABU to post for employment advice in AIBU

wightjellybaby Tue 04-Mar-14 18:47:51

Just make really shit tea/coffee they wont ask you to do it for long noone likes it pissy weak or super strong. Its worked for me in the past

poorbuthappy Tue 04-Mar-14 18:50:33

So she can't drink at her desk because she's 18.

How big is the company she works for?

wightjellybaby Tue 04-Mar-14 18:52:39

Could she go and stand at someone elses desk whos eating and also eat if asked just say they offered me some (technically not a breach of the rule as not at her desk) petty I know but sounds like the boss is a bit petty. Or can she query the matter by going higher than the office manager?

balenciaga Tue 04-Mar-14 18:53:02

I don't know if its her age

but they are certainly being shitty to her and its really not fair

bless her sad

can I ask is she pretty, sorry, I know it sounds a weird question, but tbh I had this loads in my late teens early 20's, when i was the youngest in the work place. it was really upsetting and tbh amounted to workplace bullying. not being big headed but at the time I was very pretty and very slim (I am neither now trust me grin ) and looking back now I think a lot of it was just plain bitchiness and jealousy. so wonder if its a bit of that with your dd?

poorbuthappy Tue 04-Mar-14 18:54:35

Sorry I get really annoyed about stuff like this.
The principle is the same.

Your ability to drink a cup of tea is not dependent on your age. Just like
its not dependant on your sex or colour of skin.

How this is right is beyond me.

drnoitall Tue 04-Mar-14 18:54:40

It does all sound rather unfair. I would love to believe everything my dc tell me but sometimes, you know they can be a bit poetic, confuse mountains with molehills.
In any event people have given excellent advice, honestly, give it a few months, wait for the probationary period to end and hope things have improved. Maybe the last employee was a real PITA and they are keen to avoid a similar situation.
In the current economic climate, she is lucky to have a job if she were my dd I'd say get on with it for now, one day you will a need a reference. Of course if things get worse, then she may need some advice from cab.

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