Being told to ‘grow up’ does not amount to age discrimination, an employment tribunal has ruled after a teenage apprentice brought a claim against a hair salon.
Ms Stunell alleged that she had been discriminated against when a colleague at Leo Bancroft Salon in Weybridge, Surrey, told her to “grow up” and to “pull yourself together” while she was unwell at work.
The tribunal judge said that this was not enough to amount to age discrimination as the words could have been said to anyone, including someone older who was acting in a childish way.
Stunell claimed she was denied breaks when colleagues took theirs, but the tribunal found that break times would differ from day to day and that this was part of normal operating procedures.
She said she was talked down to by colleagues and that colleagues in a group chat had said she should be replaced by someone more reliable.
The tribunal found that the colleagues’ comments were not related to her age, and that comments about her reliability “would have been said about any member of staff who was late and disappeared without explanation during the day”.
Stunell said that the company had taken colleagues, but not her, on a business-related trip. The tribunal was satisfied that the decision about who attended was not to do with age but to do with the qualification of the stylists.
Overall, the tribunal found that the employer had been supportive of Stunell, who the tribunal heard had a difficult home life which sometimes affected her timekeeping and attendance.
Stunell resigned from her role at the salon in 2019 and brought claims for constructive unfair dismissal and underpayment of wages, as well as age discrimination. The tribunal dismissed all of her claims.
Although Leo Bancroft Salon had not paid Stunell the correct wage rate, a payment to correct this had been made when the error came to light. When Stunell joined the company in 2017, she initially worked a three-month probation period before starting her apprenticeship. During the probation period she was paid the apprentice rate, but should have been paid the national minimum wage as her apprenticeship had not yet begun.