Man awarded €30k over age discrimination

A mechanic who was refused permission to attend training courses because he was nearing retirement age has been awarded €30,000 by the Equality Tribunal.

John O’Neill claimed he had been discriminated against by his former employer, Fairview Motors — which operates a Hyundai dealership in Fairview, Dublin — on grounds of age, as younger mechanics had been allowed to participate in similar courses.

Mr O’Neill also successfully argued that he was discriminated against by the company’s decision to unilaterally terminate his employment in Jul 2008 when he reached 66.

The tribunal noted that Mr O’Neill had never been given a written contract. It rejected claims by Fairview that he should have known the company’s compulsory retirement age as Mr O’Neill was the first person to cease employment with the firm due to retirement.

It also rejected the company’s claims that a compulsory retirement age of 65 was custom and practice within the motor industry as it could not identify a single mechanic who had retired from the sector at that age.

The tribunal also noted that Fairview raised concerns about previous work carried out Mr O’Neill only after he had indicated his resistance to retire on his 66th birthday.

Meanwhile, a 47-year-old electrician who was made redundant after 21 years of blemish-free service was awarded €22,000 on the basis that he had been discriminated against on the basis of his age.

Gabriel O’Farrell took the case against Mercury Engineering of Sandyford Industrial Estate, Dublin, as he claimed that younger, less experienced electricians with poorer attendance records were retained while he was made redundant in Jul 2008. Mercury argued it had made 1,000 employees redundant since 2008 including eight electricians older than Mr O’Farrell and that he had been selected in accordance with the company’s criteria based on experience, flexibility, and service. However, the tribunal ruled that the company had failed to rebut Mr O’Farrell’s allegations of discrimination especially as it had provided some contradictory evidence.

In another case, a Limerick hairdressing and beauty salon was ordered by the tribunal to pay €7,000 compensation to a former worker whom it ruled was dismissed from her job for reasons connected to her pregnancy.

The award was made against Kristaps Slakters, owner of the Hot Scissors Hair Studio based at The Crescent in Limerick, whom the tribunal found had discriminated against his former worker, Lana Gavrilova, on grounds of gender.

Meanwhile, the parent of a child with special needs was awarded €6,348 under the Equal Status Act for the distress and upset he incurred after the board of management of an unnamed primary school refused his application for enrolment.

The tribunal ruled that the school had discriminated against the nine-year-old boy with dyspraxia — a neurological disorder affecting movement and coordination — on grounds of disability.

It expressed surprise that the principal did not talk directly to the child’s mother before making his decision as she was a teacher in the school. It noted the child was being bullied in another school and could have moved much earlier if the principal had not discriminated against him.

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