Newcastle admin assistant wins ‘too young’ age discrimination claim

A 19-year-old administrative assistant sacked for being “too young” won an age discrimination case last week.

Leanne Wilkinson claimed she had been unfairly dismissed from her job at Springwell Engineering in Newcastle, having been told she was too young for the job and they needed an older person with more experience.

The employment tribunal ruled in her favour, finding that evidence relied on by the company did not show Wilkinson lacked in performance, and judged she had been discriminated against on the grounds of age.

The tribunal said the company had relied on a “stereotypical assumption that capability equals experience and experience equals older age… age was the predominant reason for the decision to dismiss”.

Manchester-based Nexus solicitors won the case for Wilkinson under the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006. Wilkinson was 18 at the time of her dismissal.

Craig McCracken, a Nexus employment lawyer, said: “There seems to be an assumption amongst the public that age discrimination laws are only there to protect older workers but this case is a reminder that everyone is entitled to be treated fairly, whether they’re close to retirement or just starting out in work.”

The Wilkinson v Springwell ruling follows a similar case last year during in which a 20-year-old woman was found to be unfairly dismissed also for being “too young”.

Wilkinson was awarded £16,081.12 (£5,000 of which is injury to feelings).

The company was also ordered to tell prospective employees the dismissal was a breach of the regulations on the grounds of her age and not in relation to capability.

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