Employment law

61-year-old salesman wins age discrimination case

A 61-year-old salesman nicknamed ‘gramps’ who was fired from his job selling wedding rings at Brown and Newirth has won his case for age discrimination.

24 March 2016

Senior man with blue shirt and glasses standing outside

Alan Dove, who had worked for the jewellers for 25 years, was awarded more than £63,000 in compensation after he brought an age discrimination and unfair dismissal case against his employer when his employment was terminated in April 2015.

What evidence did Alan have for his claim?

Despite not being a grandfather, he was called ‘gramps’ by the head of the sales team, Gareth Thomas. Mr Thomas said he considered the nickname ‘an affectionate term of address’, but Mr Dove found it disrespectful and hurtful.

Mr Dove also had some of his clients transferred from him to Mr Thomas. He was told by Director John Ball that a client had complained that he was “too long in the tooth” – but this was later denied by the client.

The Watford Employment Tribunal ruled that when Mr Dove was described as “long in the tooth”, “old fashioned” and “traditional” these were negative references to his age.

The tribunal said: "Use of these phrases indicate views emanating from the customers which are negative views almost certainly based on the claimant's age.

"He was dismissed, in essence, because some of the clients that he was dealing with had been transferred to Mr Thomas by Mr Ball. This left, in Mr Ball's view, insufficient income to be generated by the claimant.”

What compensation is awarded for unfair dismissal claims?

Sadly, Mr Dove is not alone in experiencing unfair dismissal based on his age. Age discrimination can affect anyone in the UK regardless of what job you do. This case highlights an issue in the UK where people in their late 50s and early 60s are finding their careers being brought to an abrupt halt.

Mr Dove deserved to be treated better by the company where he worked his way up to the point where he was made responsible for middle England, South Wales and the Channel Islands.

There is no upper limit to compensation in cases where the unfair dismissal was because of a person’s age. This is unlike normal unfair dismissal claims which are not discriminatory where there is a statutory cap on the compensation.

Compensatory awards are based on the individual’s loss of earnings flowing from an unfair or discriminatory dismissal. In a discrimination claim, an individual may also be awarded a sum for injury to their feelings, which is based on how they have been affected by their treatment.

Unless it can be objectively justified, less favourable treatment at work because of age is unlawful age discrimination. The defence that everyone in the sales team had nicknames was not justification for the unfair treatment Mr Dove suffered when he was called ‘gramps’.

Slater and Gordon understand the difficult situations people suffer due to age discrimination at work.

If you’ve been subjected to discrimination, harassment or victimisation at work, call us on freephone 0330 041 5869 or contact us online here and we’ll call you back.

All information was correct at the time of publication.

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