What age do you think you’ll retire? Do you sit there endlessly at your desk, dreaming about winning the lottery and being able to retire at the age of 25, or is your passion for work so high you want to work well into your old age?
Thanks to the government, you’re able to do either one if you wish and companies are not legally allowed to make you retire once you hit a certain age. This allows anybody and everybody to continue their work so long as their health and abilities allow for it.
However, a recent case has demonstrated that age discrimination may still be prevalent in some companies.
Eileen Jolly, an 88 year old hospital receptionist, felt “humiliated” and “degraded” when she was dismissed from her post. Eileen is now suing the NHS for age discrimination after she feels that she was dismissed due to unfair circumstances.
The 88 year old was dismissed for failing to upload details of cancer patients awaiting non-urgent breast reconstruction surgery into a new electronic database. The error was partly blamed for 14 women having to wait more than a year for surgery.
Mrs Jolly, who had worked for the NHS since 1991 insisted she had not been trained to use the patient record system.
The employment tribunal is still active with a final outcome yet to be decided. The story has sparked much debate, with support on both sides.
ELAS Legal Consultant, Jordan Buckle, details which circumstances are acceptable and which are prohibited when dismissing an employee from the company.
“In 2011, the Compulsory Retirement Age of 65 was abolished. An employer must therefore continue to employ someone beyond this age and if it is deemed that an employer has dismissed an employee due to their age, it leaves them liable to age discrimination.”
“Age, as a protected characteristic, differs slightly from other protected characteristics in cases of direct discrimination in that a company is deemed to not discriminate if it can show its treatment of the employee is a proportionate mean of achieving a legitimate aim.”
“Such examples are if the employment has occupational hazards which may not be suitable for an older person, I.e. working at heights.”
“The panel in the current case will need to assess whether the Claimant has been directly or indirectly discriminated against and to what extent she has. If the tribunal finds the Claimant has been discriminated against, the tribunal will need to decide if such treatment is a proportionate means of meeting a legitimate aim.”
“A Claimant that successfully demonstrates they have been dismissed unfairly and that dismissal was due to a protected characteristic, is entitled to an award for unfair dismissal and a separate award for discrimination.”
“An unfair dismissal award comprises of a basic award (much like a redundancy payment) and a compensatory award looking future losses.”
“The award for discrimination works on a VENTO scale, a minor issue will attract a small award, a campaign of discrimination will amount to the highest level which is uncapped.”