Age discrimination

The Equality Act 2010 provides that it is against the law to treat someone less favourably than someone else because of a protected characteristic such as religion, sex, gender reassignment or age.

Discrimination can include:

  • not hiring someone
  • selecting a particular person for redundancy
  • paying someone less than another worker without good reason

It is disappointing to see a large employer failing to meet these standards. An employee who was marched out of her secretarial role in the NHS, has received a £200,000 award for age discrimination.

The employee's managers claimed that she was 'stuck' in her old ways and that she was not meeting performance targets.  The employee complained of unfair dismissal, age discrimination, disability discrimination and breach of contract. All claims were upheld. The employee, who is aged 89, said that she felt ashamed and humiliated at the hands of her employer. Her award is one of the largest of its kind ever made.

The NHS accepted the unfair dismissal accusation as it had not allowed her an appeal but tried to insist that the that her capability was a justifiable reason to end her employment. The ET did not agree.

The judge considered that training given to the employee was inadequate. He stated that: 'The role that the claimant understood she was performing, she was performing competently. There is a suspicion of the claimant being a scapegoat, the claimant was not offered training where it might be considered appropriate.' 

Apart from being a significant monetary award, the case is important for employers who must ensure that all employees are properly and fully trained to carry out their role, whatever their age.

To discuss this or any employment related issue, contact us.

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