You are never old to have fun, to learn a new skill or to see new places, and Mrs Eileen Jolly has shown that one of those new places could be the inside of an Employment Tribunal after she demonstrated this month that you are never too old to bring a successful age discrimination claim against your employer.
Mrs Jolly, born in 1930 was employed in 1991 by the East Berkshire college of Nursing and Midwifery, which later become Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust. Now, aged 88 she has successfully brought a claim against her employer for unfair dismissal as well as discrimination on the grounds of age and disability; and breach of contract.
Mrs Jolly was held to be disabled within the meaning of s.6 Equality Act 2010 by reason of her heart condition and arthritis. Despite this, Mrs Jolly had not taken a day off work in the past ten years, and even returned after suffering a cardiac arrest at work in 2004, where she was resuscitated by a surgeon.
Mrs Jolly’s complaints stem from her dismissal in January 2017, which the Trust maintains had nothing to do with her age, and rather was based solely on the grounds of culpability for her failure to adequately maintain a database of patients awaiting reconstructive surgery.Four months prior to her dismissal, Mrs Jolly was placed on ‘special leave’. She was told to collect her things and was escorted from the premises. At Tribunal it was held that ‘special leave’ (name aside) was indistinguishable from a standard suspension. The suspension was in place under to allow the Trust to carry out an investigation into her failure to follow standard processes.
Describing her suspension as awful, humiliating and degrading, upon leaving the office Mrs Jolly overheard a colleague commenting that ‘Eileen won’t be coming back’. She advised others that she had retired from her role as she was ashamed of the way she had been treated, and was later prescribed anti-depressants.