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Age banter: not a case of ‘only joking’

by on January 22, 2013

XpertHR website reports here another Employment Tribunal finding in relation to age discrimination. In Nolan v CD Bramall Dealership Ltd t/a Evans Halshaw Motorhouse Worksop ET/2601000/12, the tribunal found that the employer discriminated against Mr Nolan on the grounds of age by making him redundant because he was close to retirement.

The tribunal drew an inference of age bias against Mr Nolan on the basis of workplace age-related banter. This included colleagues changing the number plate on his car from “OAB” to “OAP and nicknaming him “Yoda”, described by the tribunal as “a small wizened character in Star Wars who is several hundred years old”. The fact that Mr Nolan said he found the age-related jokes humorous rather than offensive was not relevant.

So the concept of ‘only joking’ (always a problematic phrase seeking to limit something to one interpretation only) didn’t work here to prevent a finding of age discrimination.

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