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Pharmacy worker wins £15k payout for age discrimination at work

The pharmacy worker was awarded £15,000, of which £13,000 was for “injury to feelings”

A pharmacy worker who was “mocked” by younger members of her team has been awarded £15,000 by an employment tribunal after winning her claim for age and disability discrimination.

The claimant, who was employed by Rose Medical Ltd between April 2017 and her dismissal in September 2018 and was 63 at the time, was “mocked at work” by younger staff members for “both hearing and memory related reasons”, a Liverpool employment tribunal has said.

This led to an environment at work that was “hostile to the claimant”, it added.

Sue Walsh, was awarded more than £15,000 by the tribunal – which included £13,000 for “injury to feelings…for acts of age and disability discrimination” –  in a ruling last  this month (August 7).

She was also awarded £245.99 for “one week’s loss of pay” and two weeks’ pay for “failure to provide written particulars of employment”, which came to £470. Additionally, Ms Walsh was awarded interest on two of the payments, bringing the total to £15,649.13.

"Valuable lessons"

The tribunal ruled that she was “dismissed for absence that arose out of her disability”, after she lost her job following two days’ sickness absence.

The sickness absence was due to a “flare up” of osteoarthritis – a condition the employment tribunal found the pharmacy was aware she had.

In response to the ruling, Rose Medical Ltd told C+D: "We pride ourselves on being an open and equal opportunities family-owned community pharmacy.

"We are obviously disappointed and do not agree with the tribunal’s findings. However, during the process, we and our HR consultant have learned valuable lessons, which we will use to review our internal processes."

For advice on employment tribunals and how to avoid them, see an example in this C+D HR dilemma.

Age discrimination

The tribunal also found that Ms Walsh had “suffered detriments because of her complaints about age discrimination” and that Rose Medical Ltd “had not provided the claimant with particulars of terms and conditions of employment which complied with Section 1 Employment Rights Act 1996”.

Ms Walsh was “was mocked at work from the outset of her employment” by colleagues at St Chads Pharmacy in Oldham, Greater Manchester in a way that related to her age, the tribunal heard.

Instances included team members, all of whom were younger than Ms Walsh, repeatedly calling out her name if she missed something they said “until she had heard or was made aware by a customer, by which time the calling out had become louder and hostile", the tribunal heard.  

She was also “mocked for sometimes not being able to remember things and having to ask a colleague”, the employment tribunal was told.

Rose Medical Ltd “denied that [Ms Walsh] had been discriminated against by reason of age or disability”, according to the tribunal, but accepted that her osteoarthritis meant she was disabled.

Rose Medical Ltd said she was “dismissed for unsatisfactory performance which related to her manner and attitude to work generally”.  

However, the tribunal said it did “not accept that there were serious concerns about the claimant’s performance prior to her dismissal” as it would not be “credible to suggest” that she would not, in that case, have been dismissed earlier in her employment.

It found that Ms Walsh’s “claim for disability discrimination under Section 15 [of the] Equality Act 2010 is well founded and succeeds”.

Have you suffered age discrimination at work?

Christopher Jay, Community pharmacist

So the company did not agree with the tribunal's findings, however, they and their HR consultant have learned valuable lessons. Having put those valuable lessons into practice I would sack the HR consultant immediately, and spend money on staff training and development to improve pharmaceutical services. If staff don't treat one another with respect there is no chance that patients will be respected. Management in some pharmacies is absent, perhaps that's why some businesses fail. Discuss.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

From my experience supporting cases, there is a trend that employees and employers are unaware of the full extent of the protections that the law affords them at work.

Biggest piece of advice I think everyone should consider is to unionise and when in doubt or worried, consult them.

A LOCUM, Community pharmacist

of all the types of discrimation i have stomached , age would the least i'd claim for , guess whats's top of  my list ?

Shahid Khan, Pharmacy technician

Audism is too often seen as an acceptable form of prejudice unfortunately.

Freelance Chemist, Pre-reg Pharmacist

Expect a looonggggg queue of people waiting to put the claims in now.

Getting Shorter, Community pharmacist

I'm not sure about that... several specific circumstances here, which will have started and somewhat revolved around the failure to provide a proper contract/particulars of work - employment tribunals don't like this at all and it immediately puts the employer on the back foot as they cannot prove that the employee was made aware of any expections.

This then compounded by what sounds like a failure to follow up on performance concerns - whether that is to ask employee to improve, or to make arrangements to work around problems (eg, hearing aids/loop) - until the rest of the staff are constantly fed up with it.

Poor HR is, as far as I can read into this article, at the root of this, despite the headline... which iks what the company has taken away from it, too.


(Just to add, every time I see comments from actual employment lawyers, they say tribunals are a complete lottery anyway... they all quote cast iron cases on either side that have crashed and burned...)

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