Manchester based Pharmacy worker is successful in her claims for age and disability discrimination.

It has been reported  that a Pharmacy worker has been awarded more than £15,000 for age and disability discrimination, after enduring a campaign of age-based bullying by younger work colleagues.

The worker in question is Sue Walsh who was 63 years of age at the time, and who had some form of hearing impairment.  The Employment Tribunal heard that she was repeatedly mocked by younger work colleagues who were in teens and 20’s who would shout out ‘You can’t hear can you’ in front of customers.

Ms Walsh commenced employment with the Pharmacy in 2017 as a counter assistant at Rose Medical but was mocked from the outset. Her line manager was Russell Nolan aged 24.

Ms Walsh then complained to the Pharmacy Director, Martin Molyneux who told her to ‘Smile and just get on with the job’ and to ‘let it go over her head’ as the antagonists ‘were just kids’.

During the course of her employment, Ms Walsh did seek medical advice as she was embarrassed about her hearing and she was fitted with a hearing aid, however this did not stop the abuse.

Those responsible would shout from the dispensary to her at the counter until she had heard or was made aware by a customer whilst the calling became louder and more hostile.   The abuse carried on and was carried out in front of other colleagues and customers on a regular basis and over a long period of time.

Once her line manager discovered that she had complained she was subjected to increasing criticism of her work and he asked her how long she had until she retired.

In September 2018, Ms Walsh who suffered from arthritis, suffered a fall at home and hurt her back leading to her calling in sick.  Mr Molyneux then decided that this was the ‘last straw’ and then dismissed Ms Walsh the following week.

The employer tried to convince the employment tribunal that Ms Walsh was dismissed for poor performance.  However, they saw through this and decided that she had been the victim of both age and disability discrimination.

Ms Walsh was awarded £15,649.13 and £13,000 of that sum was for Injury to feeling.

It is vital that such behaviour in the workplace is nipped in the bud, and that employers adopt and follow their internal polices for example grievance policies, anti-bullying and harassment and equal opportunities, and to consider whether any reasonable adjustments are required within the workplace.

A failure to do so can be costly for the employer, even for staff with relatively short periods of employment.  More damaging for the employer is the adverse and negative publicity that this attracts and which makes it newsworthy in the media.

For more information of unlawful discrimination in the workplace contact Steven Eckett – Partner and Head of Employment at Meaby & Co LLP, Tel 020 7703  5034   E-mail seckett@meaby.co.uk