The employment tribunal ruled that the company was guilty of harrassment and age discrimination following various comments targeted at the claimant.
In November, an employment tribunal found a company guilty of harrassment and age discrimination after comments were made to the claimant by her manager which referenced Alzheimer’s disease.
Stating that the company created an “intimidating” environment for her, Mrs. Crompton, the claimant, argued that she was subject to various comments from her manager.
According to Mrs. Crompton’s account, her manager would make statements such as “Is it the Alzheimer’s again, Mary?” and “Oh dear, Alzheimer’s back again, Mary?” She also recounts that her manager asked whether she was having a “senior moment”. These comments would occur several times a week, if not daily, the claimant stated.
Due to this, Mrs. Crompton – who was 57 at the time – stated that these comments were made due to her age and that these words had the “purpose or effect of violating her dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for her”. This was firmly denied by her manager and the tribunal ruled that her manager most likely saw the comments “as no more than office banter”.
However, the claimant Mrs. Crompton also claimed that she was dismissed due to age discrimination. She stated that her employer treated her “less favourably” than they treated or would treat a younger person.
Within the facts of the case, the court stated that Mrs. Crompton was working as a Search Consultant which was subject to a probationary period. Although “enthusiastic”, it was noted that she was “making errors in welcome letters and CVs that she was sending out”.
After an initial meeting which was “positive so not as to discourage Mrs. Compton”, it was stated that little changed so far as Mrs. Crompton making errors.
Eventually after one more meeting and extra training, the senior staff concluded that Mrs. Crompton was taking “too long to learn the basics” and resultingly, had to be dismissed.
The employment tribunal ultimately ruled that the Alzheimer’s remarks made by Mrs. Crompton’s manager were an “act of direct discrimination” which would not have been made to a younger Search Consultant.
However, the fact that Mrs. Crompton was subject to a probation period or, resultingly, dismissed from her role was not found to be linked to age discrimination.
The Court ultimately stated that “what drove the dismissal were the performance issues and, on the evidence, age was not a factor”.
Mrs. Crompton was awarded £900 at the end of the case with additional interest of £100.41. The court stated that this was due to Mrs. Crompton’s “focus [always having been] on the unfairness of her dismissal”. It further states that the “shift of emphasis towards age discrimination… appears to be opportunistic” as this only occurred after Mrs. Crompton spoke to an outside HR consultant.
Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.