Article by: Makbool Javaid, partner – Simons Muirhead & Burton |
Makbool Javaid, partner – Simons Muirhead & Burton
June 20, 2022
In Mr C Rowan v DWFS Services Limited, an experienced financial adviser lost an age discrimination case after he was overlooked for a CEO job and said he was ‘not getting any younger’. Chief executive David Wylde told Paul Rowan, 58, that he decided to appoint Daniel Tylerman, who was in his 40s, instead because he was “younger and more energetic”, an employment tribunal heard.
The panel heard that Mr Rowan was the company’s highest paid employee at £284,000 a year and had worked there for almost 20 years. Mr Rowan was ‘unhappy’ about it, refusing to report to Mr Tyerman and would not attend meetings he called, the court heard.
Later, as the business struggled financially as the pandemic hit the UK, Mr Wylde decided to cut costs and made Mr Rowan redundant at the age of 59. As a result, he filed a complaint with an employment tribunal for age discrimination and unfair dismissal.
But the panel concluded that Mr Rowan did not complain about the comments until he was fired and was only offended that he was described as less “energetic” than Mr Tyerman. The court found he was unfairly fired as his dismissal was “premeditated”, but it would have happened anyway as he had become the worst performing member of his team “in many respects”.
Labor judge Emma Burns concluded: “[Mr Rowan] Wasn’t upset by references to age in the comments. He was upset that Mr. Wylde had decided to appoint Mr. Tyerman as CEO and that Mr. Wylde had described Mr. Tyerman as more energetic than him.
“It was entirely plausible that the words were spoken given the context of the conversation. Additionally, we find that both men used to refer to age in the workplace…it was part of their communication culture and neither considered this language offensive or inappropriate.
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