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NHS Trust broke age discrimination rules after sacking 89-year-old secretary

An NHS trust was found to have flouted age discrimination rules after dismissing an 89-year old medical secretary because she could not use a computer.

Eileen Jolly told an employment tribunal that she felt ‘humiliated’ after she was dismissed and then escorted out of the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading.

Management at the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust claimed that Mrs Jolley had been sacked for a ‘catastrophic failure in performance’.

Mrs Jolley, who has a heart condition, claims she was so upset after reading a report from her managers who made hurtful comments about her age and health, that she became unwell and had to be admitted to hospital.

Upholding Mrs Jolley’s claim that she had been subjected to age discrimination, disability discrimination and breach of contract, Judge Andrew Gumbiti-Zimuto said the dismissal had been “tainted with discrimination”.

The tribunal’s judgment stated: “The role that the claimant understood she was performing, she was performing competently. There is a suspicion of the claimant being a scapegoat, the claimant was not offered training where it might be considered appropriate.”

A remedy hearing had been due to take place, but the trust instead opted to offer Mrs Jolly an out-of-court cash settlement.

She is understood to have accepted compensation totalling £200,000 – believed to be one of the largest settlements ever awarded – for unfair dismissal, injury to feelings, failing to provide written particulars and non-compliance with the ACAS code.

Amanda Hyam, a Senior Associate with Mander Hadley, who specialises in employment law matters, said: “Workers have the right not to be treated less favourably because of their age or disability.

“With the abolition of employment tribunal fees, it has become far easier to bring claims than in the previous five years, so employees who feel they have been unfairly dealt with, have easier access to the courts.”

For help and advice with all aspects of employment law including discrimination in the workplace, please contact us

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Amanda Hyam

Amanda Hyam

Associate – Dispute Resolution / Employment
I have specialised in Dispute Resolution, Civil Litigation and Employment law for more than 15 years.  I understand how daunting the prospect of litigation can be and because of this I am always available to discuss concerns.

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