April 6, 2017
A former company accountant has been awarded £182,000 age discrimination compensation after a Liverpool Employment Tribunal found he was unfairly dismissed.
John Peters had worked for Warrington-based Rock Oil Ltd for sixteen years when, in 2013 and at the age of 65 years, the management of the company made it clear they wanted him to retire. As the company did not have a policy for compulsory retirement at age 65 years – and had allowed other employees to stay on beyond this age – John refused.
A subsequent “hostile” internal meeting resulted in John taking a lengthy stress-related sickness absence. Rock Oil Ltd subsequently brought disciplinary charges against him, failed to follow the ACAS Code of Practice during the disciplinary procedure, and dismissed him. John sought legal advice and claimed age discrimination compensation against his former employers.
At the hearing into his claim, the Liverpool Employment Tribunal was told the company had failed to follow the recommendations of two medical reports that would have facilitated John´s return to work, cherry-picked information to support a pre-determined decision to dismiss him, and denied John access to the information required to defend the allegations made against him.
After investigating the evidence submitted to support the company´s defence, the Tribunal said it was “unreliable and misleading”. The tribunal awarded John £182,000 age discrimination compensation to account for his loss of earnings, his loss of benefits and the injury to his feelings. The award was enhanced due to Rock Oil´s failure to follow the ACAS Code of Practice.
In its judgement against Rock Oil, the Tribunal found: “When the claimant indicated he did not intend to retire, the management trumped up charges against him in what can only be described as a threatening manner, acted in a high-handed manner in relation to the medical reports and then failed to follow the recommendations of two medical reports to facilitate the claimant’s return to work”.
The judgement continued: “Management refused to follow the recommendations of their external consultant, lied to the claimant about his bonus, demanded the return of his company care, refused to provide the information the claimant needed to respond to the allegations against him and failed to carry out a fair and objective disciplinary procedure.”
Speaking after the award of age discrimination compensation, John said: “I am totally relieved that the matter has reached a conclusion after four years of stress and anguish. The matter was never about financial compensation but to preserve my good name and reputation in the field of finance and accountancy. I am also very disappointed that the company have shown no remorse or offered any apology throughout the whole process.”