In Mr C Rowan v DWFS Services Limited, an experienced financial adviser has lost an age discrimination case after he was overlooked for a CEO role and told he was “not getting any younger”. Managing director David Wylde explained to 58-year-old Paul Rowan he had instead decided to appoint Daniel Tylerman, who was in his mid-40s, because he was “younger and more energetic”, an employment tribunal heard.
The panel heard this was despite Mr Rowan being the company’s highest-paid employee on £284,000 a year and having worked there for almost 20 years. Mr Rowan was “unhappy” about this, refusing to report to Mr Tyerman and would not attend meetings he called, the tribunal heard.
Later, when the company was struggling financially as the pandemic hit the UK, Mr Wylde decided to cut costs and made Mr Rowan redundant at the age of 59. As a result he made a claim at an employment tribunal for age discrimination and unfair dismissal.
But the panel found Mr Rowan had not complained about the comments until he was made redundant and only was offended that he had been described as less “energetic” than Mr Tyerman. The tribunal concluded he was unfairly dismissed as his redundancy had been “premeditated”, but it would have happened anyway as he had become the poorest performing member of his team “in a large number of respects”.
Employment Judge Emma Burns concluded: “[Mr Rowan] was not upset by the references to age in comments. He was upset that Mr Wylde had decided to appoint Mr Tyerman as the CEO and that Mr Wylde had described Mr Tyerman as more energetic than him.
“It was entirely plausible that the words were said given the context of the conversation. In addition, we find that both men were used to making references to age in the workplace… it was part of their culture of communication and neither considered such language to be offensive or inappropriate.”
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