Industrial Tribunal awards £3,000 to man told he was ‘too old’ to apply for job

Industrial Tribunal
Image credit: Equality Commission NI

An Industrial Tribunal has awarded £3,000 to a 63-year-old man from Antrim who was told he was too old to apply for a job as a store person and van driver by Spring and Airbrake Ireland.

The Tribunal found Patrick Matier (pictured), whose case was supported by the Equality Commission, had been a matter of discrimination because of his age.

Matier told the hearing that he called the premises of Spring and Airbrake Ireland at Nutts Corner, County Antrim, after learning of a vacancy. The Tribunal accepted his evidence that he was asked to give his age and was subsequently told there was no point in applying because the organisation was looking for a younger person who could be trained and “moved upstairs”.

Matier said: “I had been keen to get this job and to be told I was too old to even apply for it really shook me. I had been off work for a while and I was trying to get back in to work.”

In its finding, the Tribunal said that the incident “had the effect of significantly discouraging the claimant” and that “this had been caused entirely by the behaviour of the respondent and this behaviour was motivated by age discrimination.”

Mary Kitson, senior legal officer at the Equalities Commission, said: “This case is an important reminder to all employers not to make generalised assumptions about people on grounds, such as age, which are protected by anti-discrimination law.

“The Tribunal, in its finding, said [Matier] ‘was, in effect, given no opportunity on the grounds of his age’. No employer should be making assumptions about a person’s ability, or suitability for training and promotion, because of their age.”

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In a statement through its solicitors MCL Employment Law, Spring and Airbrake Ireland said it was disappointed with the decision and would be looking to have it reviewed.

The employer added: “Should a review fail to address the shortcomings of this decision, the only avenue open to the respondent is to refer the matter to the Court of Appeal, which for any [organisation] is extremely prohibitive financially.”