A 63-year-old Antrim man who was told he was too old to apply for a job as a store person/van driver has been awarded £3,000 by an industrial tribunal on grounds of age discrimination.
The tribunal heard how in February this year Patrick Matier had called at the premises of Spring and Airbrake Ireland Limited at Nutts Corner after learning of a vacancy from the social security office in Antrim.
He told how when he was giving his details to a man at the firm’s premises, he was asked to state his age. When he replied that he was 63 he was told: “I was looking for a younger person who I could train and move upstairs.”
When Mr Matier asked if there was any point in continuing the conversation he was told: “No, not really.”
“I had been keen to get this job,” Mr Matier said. “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. It was disheartening and it made me angry that my application could be dismissed in this way just because of my age.”
In its finding, the tribunal acknowledged that the incident “had the effect of significantly discouraging the claimant”.
“This had been caused entirely by the behaviour of the respondent and this behaviour was motivated by age discrimination,” it added.
Mr Matier was supported in his case against the company by the Equality Commission.
Welcoming the outcome of the tribunal, Mary Kitson, the commission’s senior legal officer, 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.
“No employer should be making assumptions about a person’s ability, or suitability for training and promotion, because of their age.”
The company denied the factual basis of the claim and contended that the claimant had raised “a vexatious and opportunistic claim”.
But after considering all documentary and oral evidence, the tribunal found in favour of Mr Matier, ruling that he had been unlawfully discriminated against on grounds of age.
“Having assessed the quality of the evidence emanating from both sides, the tribunal’s considered conclusion is that the evidence supporting the claimant’s version of events is the more cogent and credible,” the tribunal decision stated.
“In the absence of there being clear evidence of significant injury to feelings (perhaps with the evidence of a medical report), the appropriate award is assessed by the tribunal at a figure of £3,000 (plus interest),” it added.