Pharmacy worker teased by younger colleagues awarded £15,000
A pharmacy worker has been awarded £15,000 after a tribunal found she had been subjected to age discrimination.
Sue Walsh began working for St Chad’s chemist in Oldham in April 2017 when she was 60 years old.
Immediately her lack of hearing and memory loss came to the notice of her co-workers who were aged between 17 and 24.
She was subjected to a series of insults and taunts, often causing her embarrassment in front of customers.
Walsh reported the incidents to her supervisor Mr Nolan, but he failed to refer the case to the co-director of the company that owned the pharmacy, Mr Molyneux, even though that would be the general practice for people management issues.
The bullying behaviour continued, and Walsh requested she be moved to another pharmacy or be let go.
She eventually spoke to the Mr Molyneux about the matter, but he told her to “smile and get on with the job” and that the main perpetrators were the “future lifeline of the business”.
Walsh responded: “But I’m 63 not 21. I shouldn’t have to just let it go.” She also informed Molyneux that Mr Nolan had done nothing to ease the situation and had shown her no support.
Molyneux assured her things would get better. However, the tribunal found he did not take statements, put training in place or contact HR.
Walsh said her relationship with Nolan went downhill from then on, and he would often not greet her in the mornings and single her out for errors that were made by all staff.
Nolan tasked Walsh with a job known as ‘dooping’, which was outside her usual duties. It involved putting strain on her back and aggravated her osteoarthritis, a condition that Nolan was aware she suffered from.
Walsh completed the task without asking for help, but then suffered a dizzy spell and collapsed on to a colleague.
Nolan did not attend to the incident, despite being the site’s first aider.
Walsh was sent home and called in sick for her next shift claiming she had injured her back while completing the dooping task.
She was dismissed by Molyneux on her return to the pharmacy.
The Employment Tribunal ruled that Walsh was subjected to disability and age discrimination. Her disclosure to Nolan about the age-related teasing was not taken seriously as a formal complaint.
Rather he viewed it as “just a moan and groan” and “wanted to get home for his tea”. The tribunal stated that this hostility and unhelpfulness towards Walsh were examples of “escalating treatment over that period”.
Walsh was awarded £15,649 for loss of earnings and injury to feelings.
Please contact Simran Lalli if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article, or any aspect of employment law.