The Times reported last month that referring to a work colleague as a grandparent could count as age discrimination even if they are in fact a grandparent.
Anne Dopson, a 62-year-old, worked for Stag Publications in Hertfordshire as a Sales Director and resigned in October 2017 and brought various claims, including age discrimination. Ms. Dopson said that she was upset by a reference which a colleague had made in an article published in an industry magazine to a car Ms. Dopson had driven being “comfy wheels for a grandmother”. Ms. Dopson, who has a number of grandchildren, nevertheless said “I don’t agree with what could be perceived as a dig at my age.”.
The Tribunal accepted that the article (and in particular the relevant portion which had offended Ms. Dopson) was detrimental treatment within the meaning of section 39(2)(d) of the Equality Act 2010 (“EA 2010”) and that it was also less favourable treatment by reason of Ms. Dopson’s age, and therefore direct age discrimination.
It’s important to note that this case, whilst an interesting set of circumstances, is only a first instance Tribunal decision and therefore does not set a precedent to be followed by other Tribunals. Also, Ms. Dopson’s claim for age discrimination failed on the basis that she had brought it outside of the 3-month limitation period. Nevertheless, the judgment shows that words or labels which are linked to one of the nine protected characteristics in the EA 2010 (age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation) can be problematic if used inappropriately and in a way which is deemed discriminatory by the EA 2010. The case should give employees and managers pause before making similar comments about their colleagues, whether they are true statements or not.
The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023, creates a statutory right for qualifying workers to request a more predictable pattern of work. This right works similarly in a few ways to the right to request a more flexible working pattern.
In the news this week has been the speculation over Manchester United’s decision in respect of their player, Mason Greenwood. Greenwood was charged with rape and assault, but the charges – which he denies – were dropped back in February. We learnt yesterday that Greenwood’s time with the…
The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill has now completed its journey through parliament and the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 is currently awaiting Royal Assent. What is changing?
Fans of Radio 4’s The Archers will be aware that Brian has sacked Stella as the manager of Home Farm. The background is that Stella spent £150,000 on a new seed drill without Brian’s approval so he has decided to treat the matter as gross misconduct and dismiss her with immediate effect. Stella has taken advice and has been told that she has a good claim of unfair dismissal and possibly sex discrimination too (apparently on the basis that so few farm managers are women). Leaving aside for one moment the fact that The Archers is a work of fiction, does Stella have a claim?