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Editor’s take: All mouth and no bite

Sarah Butcher, editor of eFinancialCareers, on toothless age discrimination laws.

Shock, horror! More than a week has passed since new age discrimination legislation came into force and there’s no news yet of grey-haired bankers taking their ageist employers to the cleaners.

OK, a week’s not long and we may yet see a spate of age-related cases in the weeks and months to come. But there are a few things likely to prevent a torrent of complaints from an investment banking denture-gnashing militia, no matter how long we wait:

1. There is no such militia. As a reader kindly pointed out last week, 35 is old in banking terms. After several gruelling years as an analyst or associate, some people may lose their hair, but losing teeth is surely the exception rather than the rule.

2. Many claims are hushed up. According to Jane Mann, head of employment law at Fox Williams, only one in 50 discrimination claims makes it to court. The rest settle outside and no one’s any the wiser.

3. The new laws are more toothless than they seem. Lawyers tell us banks can continue rejecting older applicants just as long as they have a ‘legitimate’ business reason for doing so. And what constitutes a ‘legitimate’ reason? Rebecca Harding-Hill, a partner at McDermott Will & Emery, says recent experience and up-to-date academics just might qualify as long as they can be proved to be necessary for the role.

No ageism in banking? Just try convincing a derivatives professional that your aged maths qualification puts you on a par with new graduates versed in the latest stochastic theories …

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