The oldest person in the United Kingdom to win an age discrimination case has warned bosses not to pick on elderly workers.
Eileen Jolly, who is 88 years-old, is expected to receive a substantial compensation payout after an employment tribunal ruled that she had been discriminated against on the basis of age, when she was fired from her job as a medical secretary.
“I feel people ought to be allowed to carry on working if they want to and can still do what is required,” she told The Mail on Sunday.
Ms Jolly worked for the National Health Service since 1991, until she was sacked from her position at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading in January 2017.
She was blamed for a mix up that involved a waiting list for non-urgent breast treatments.
Colleagues had allegedly told her superiors that they were concerned about her age and ‘frailty’.
On the day of her dismissal, Ms Jolly says that she was frog-marched through an open-plan office by a manager in front of colleagues, carrying only a couple of books and her coffee cup.
“Nothing like this had ever happened in all my years of work,” she said
“The way they treated me made me doubt myself for the first time in my life.
“I wasn’t doing well, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t stop thinking about it all.”
Ms Jolly didn’t tell anyone that she had been sacked – not even her husband or two daughters – instead insisting that she had retired.
“I didn’t want to burden them all with my problems,” she said.
The truth was, Ms Jolly wanted to keep working until she turned 90.
The grandmother takes her case to an employment tribunal
The feisty grandmother, who has a heart condition, arthritis and walks with a stick, decided that she wasn’t going to take the situation lying down.
She made an application for unfair dismissal in an employment tribunal, claiming she had been unlawfully sacked on the grounds of age and disability.
Brendan Smith, the doctor she worked for, went into bat for her, describing her as ‘reliable’ and ‘meticulous’ and was being used as a ‘scapegoat’ for failings by management.
Ms Jolly said that the hearing was ‘nerve-racking’, adding: “I’m so glad my old boss Mr Smith was a witness for me.”
In the end, the tribunal sided with Ms Jolly, and will now determine how much compensation she will awarded, which experts say could be as much as $A187,000.
“I need to re-tarmac the driveway, so it’ll be good to have money for that,” she said. “And the occasional margarita.”
Age discrimination unlawful in Australia
Miles Heffernan, Litigation Director at Fair Work Claims, said Ms Jolly could have taken similar action if she had worked in Australia.
“Our anti-discrimination laws make it unlawful to discriminate against someone on the basis of age and disability, so Ms Jolly would definitely had a strong case if she had been working in Australia,” he said.
“No one deserves to be treated unfairly, or to lose their job, simply based on the number of birthdays they have had.
“Make no mistake, we will fight for any worker who has been adversely affected based on their age or if they have a disability.”
Miles Heffernan is just one of our team of specialists who can assist an employee who has been unfairly or unlawfully dismissed, or who has experienced discrimination based on age or disability or impairment.
If you have experienced discrimination based on your age, or a disability, or if you have been unfairly dismissed from employment, we can help.
Please call our team at Fair Work Claims today on
1300 853 837