Account Director Subjected to Age Discrimination

On 25th January 2023 the Employment Tribunal sitting in the city of Leeds handed down its judgment in favor of an employee employed in a management position in an organization specializing in communications. The Employment Tribunal found that the treatment received by the manager at the hands of the business in the view of the Employment Tribunal amounted to age discrimination and unfair dismissal. The Employment Tribunal found that the conduct of the employer was so serious that it handed down a financial sanction in the amount of over seventy thousand pounds. 

What Happened In The Case?

The Claimant worked in a channel accounts section of a Leeds-based business. His wage was largely dependent upon the volume of phone cards he was able to dispose of to persons in their capacity as re-sellers. Despite his efforts, the account director fell short of the expected standards in terms of the number of products he was able to dispose of. The apparent perception of senior management was that the account director was struggling to meet the required standard and appeared to have ired his manager. The director was accused of incompetence and being unproductive. The Employment Tribunal commented that the accusations by senior colleagues about low sales rates were unfounded and lacked evidence. The Account Director suggested a person who may be capable of occupying a sales role in the business and he was duly considered for the open position along with sixteen other candidates. Following a meeting with the recommended candidate, the superior colleague communicated his belief that he appeared to be of advancing years. He believed that this was a negative as the business was attempting to attract increased diversity into the business. The superior colleague also admitted to the Employment Tribunal panel not wanting the white fifty-year-old male demographic in the business. 

In January 2021 the Account Director returned from a stress-related absence and found his capability questioned again. In response, he submitted an unsuccessful grievance believing the treatment to be due to the protected characteristic age and the objective of wanting to employ younger persons. The Account Director voluntarily left the business shortly after claiming age discrimination and flawed procedures. The Tribunal confirmed that the Account Director had been subjected to harassment, unfair dismissal, wrongful dismissal, and direct age discrimination.       

Why Did The Employment Tribunal Reach This Conclusion?

The Employment Tribunal found it in the Account Director’s favor because he appeared to think that the conduct exhibited by the senior colleague eroded the bond between the employer and workforce members. The panel also found that it was foreseeable for the Account Director to hold this perception. On the latter point, the Tribunal looked at how the business procedures were followed when investigating the Account Manager’s complaint and observed that it amounted to a whitewash and was merely a ploy to terminate the employment contract of the Claimant due to capability. The panel ruled on the evidence that the Account Director had been subject to an intimidating atmosphere.  

What Should Lawyers Be Advising Their Clients?

Fifty percent of the modern workforce is over the age of forty years of age. Legal professionals need to advise clients that it is common for less favorable treatment to be prevalent towards them. To mitigate the risk of discriminatory incidents happening in the future, businesses need to realize that this has many means of presenting itself. They should:
-    put in place, and enforce equality
-    not be stereotyping members of the workforce of advancing years
-    avoid overlooking such persons for higher positions or
-    not deciding to recruit such persons.


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