A salesman who was discriminated against because of his age and a disability has been awarded more than $30,000 compensation by the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Sixteen weeks after starting with Acorn Stairlifts at Belrose in Sydney as a telephone sales advisor, then 62 year-old Fenton McEvoy was sacked.
Mr McEvoy claimed that National Sales Manager, Laura Kelly, told him that his employment was terminated because he had a bad back, bad hearing and was too old.
He was twice the age of most of his colleagues.
The company denied this allegation and claimed that Mr McEvoy’s employment was terminated because of issues relating to his work performance.
Mr McEvoy had recently ruptured a disc in his back, but had been cleared by his doctor to return to work again.
He claimed that his manager said that she didn’t believe him, because he was ‘hobbling around the office, limping, and taking pain killers’.
She said he didn’t ‘fit the culture’, because he was too old.
The manager also accused him of being deaf, because when she yelled at him across the office, or swore at him in an effort to get a reaction, he didn’t reply.
He said he had heard her, but didn’t respond to being yelled at.
He also pointed out that his job involved working on the phone, not lifting heavy objects.
After this discussion he was told to get his things and leave the office immediately.
‘Ageing workforce should be treasured’
Mr McEvoy made a complaint to the Anti Discrimination Board, claiming he was discriminated against because of his age, and because of his disability.
Employers cannot treat a worker differently, or less favourably than other workers because of their age, or because of a disability, according to Miles Heffernan, Director of Litigation at Discrimination Claims.
“The ageing workforce should be treasured, not isolated or treated differently.
“Not only have they got much to give, but it’s the very basics of humanity to support older workers as they head towards retirement.”
What the tribunal found
At the Tribunal, two former colleagues supported Mr McEvoy’s claim of less favourable treatment.
One of the witnesses, who had been Mr McEvoy’s manager, said that he was ‘the best and most consistent performer’ in the office.
The employer denied their claims, and maintained that Mr McEvoy was sacked for performance problems, including lack of product knowledge and time taken on calls.
The Tribunal found that Mr McEvoy had been discriminated against.
It was satisfied that because of his age and presumed disabilities, he was treated less favourably than a person not in his age group or without his disabilities would have been in the same or similar circumstances.
He was awarded $31,420 for lost income and for depression and anxiety suffered as a result of the dismissal.
Employers must obey the law
Mr Heffernan, from Discrimination Claims, says it’s a reminder to all employers to obey the law.
“Courts and Commissions are adapting their compensation to reflect community standards, and there has been a sharp increase in compensation for these matters,” he said.
If you have experienced discrimination on the basis of age, you may be entitled to compensation.
Please call our team at Discrimination Claims today on
1300 853 837
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