13 November 2008
Woman accuses firm of age and sexual discrimination
A woman who was threatened by her employer with dismissal for taking time off work has launched a claim of age and sexual discrimination, it has emerged.
According to the East Anglian Daily Times, Susan Smith alleges that Marks and Spencer (M&S) acted in a discriminatory fashion towards older workers and treated sick staff like "criminals".
The 55-year-old customer services advisor had taken time off work last year suffering from shingles - which is a reactivation of the viral infection that causes chickenpox.
During a recent tribunal, she said that the firm failed to take into account her age and the nature of her illness when it issued her with a warning for being absent.
Ms Smith claims that a policy which states that a warning will be issued by M&S when workers miss eight or more shifts during a 26-shift period fails to take into account the needs and circumstances of older workers, who are more likely to take sickness absence.
M&S denies the allegations and says that its policy is fair.
A decision in the case is due to be announced at a later date.