Age discrimination – Happy Birthday!?
A legal secretary who claimed that she suffered age discrimination when her colleagues asked about her 50th birthday and sent her a card has had her case dismissed by the Employment Tribunal.
The secretary, claimed she was ‘utterly shocked’ when a fellow legal secretary, then 52, ‘jumped at her like a snake’ to ask about her birthday. Her colleague reportedly said: ‘It was your 50th wasn’t it, you can’t hide it you know’. In a letter to a partner at the firm, she said she had felt ‘ambushed, punched, slapped and humiliated’ by the ‘unsolicited’ comments. Staff at the firm had also sent the secretary a card in the post, in line with the office’s practice to mark each other’s birthdays.
The secretary claimed she had suffered discrimination on the grounds of age but the Employment Tribunal found that there was not enough evidence to show that other members of staff who were over 50 would have been treated differently. It added that the comment was ‘trivial and had not been delivered maliciously’ and ‘the birthday card was intended for the claimant as an act of kindness’.
The claim was dismissed and the tribunal ordered that the secretary pay £1,700 of the employer’s costs.
Common sense prevails!
If you feel that you have suffered age discrimination at work contact our Employment Law team now on 01606 74301.