O`Reilly took the BBC to an employment tribunal claiming discrimination on the grounds of age, and won.
In actual fact the Miriam O’Reilly judgement should not come as a surprise to the freelance community as anti-discrimination guidance in the UK is often very broadly drafted.
This means that although freelancers do not have employment rights (such as entitlement to sick pay and holidays), they are within scope of many anti-discriminatory measures. Discrimination legislation and regulations relating to health and safety apply to all “workers,” regardless of their employment status, even applying to those trading under a limited company.
In the case of Miriam O`Reilly, the tribunal found that she had indeed been discriminated against on grounds of age. The tribunal noted that
The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 (“the Age Regulations”) render unlawful certain forms of age discrimination. They apply in the context of applicants and employees pursuant to Regulation 7. The parties accepted that the definition of employee is wide enough to include “freelance” workers such as the Claimant…..”