£340,000 for being called ‘a pensioner’

A tribunal has awarded £340,000 to an employee who was labelled ‘a pensioner’ because of his age and placed ‘in the relegation zone’.

What happened?

Mr Gregory (G) began working for PetroTrace Ltd (P) as a project geophysicist in September 2017. He was in his late 50s.

P is owned by Mr Baranksy (Ba) and managed daily by Mr Buxton (Bu).   In June 2020, Ba queried G’s quality of work with Bu, despite no previous concerns or evidence of poor performance. He then criticised G’s contribution to a project.   The next month, Ba sent Bu an e-mail stating they needed to ‘sack a few people’. He singled out G and another employee, citing their poor performance.

With redundancies in mind, Ba completed a casual appraisal of all staff members. Ba placed G in the ‘relegation zone’ as he had ‘done nothing of note’. Ba emailed Bu saying that G was ‘far over 60’, ‘expensive’ and ‘not showing good performance’.   Ba made G redundant.

What did the tribunal decide?

G successfully claimed age discrimination, victimisation and unfair dismissal at the tribunal and was awarded over £340,000 in compensation.

Ba made derogatory comments about G’s age and selected him for redundancy because of his age. His dismissal was also unfair because Ba cited non-existent performance issues. The redundancy was a sham.

What can you learn?

Don’t use age to select or mark an employee for redundancy. Applying that criterion will be age discrimination, even if the rest of the redundancy process is fair and reasonable.

An employee’s personal situation and financial circumstances are irrelevant to a redundancy decision, as is their proximity to retirement age.  Ignore them.

C Gregory v Petrotrace Ltd: 3304188/2022 – Corrected Reasons