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Woman asked age in Domino’s Pizza job interview wins age discrimination claim

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton

A franchise of pizza chain Domino’s has agreed to settle an age discrimination case with a woman who believed she was treated differently during a job interview due to her age, as reported in Belfast Live.

Strabane woman Janice Walsh said she was applying for a delivery driver role with the Domino’s Pizza franchise in Strabane in 2019 and the first question she was asked during the interview was how old she was. She claims that the hiring manager then wrote down the figure before saying ‘you don’t look it’.

When Janice found out she was unsuccessful in her application she immediately knew it was due to the issue with her age.

With the Equality Commission supporting Janice’s case, franchise owner Justin Quirk agreed to pay her £4,250 and apologised to her for what happened and regretted the injury to her feelings.

Janice said it was important to highlight that age discrimination is still very much prevalent in Northern Ireland.

“I immediately thought back to the interview and the question about my age. I believe my age was an issue and it had affected the decision made by the interview panel,” Janice said.

“I was trying to figure out how was my age was relevant to me doing the job. I struggled throughout the interview and I don’t recall much of the interview because I was struggling around thoughts as to should I raise this.

“I left with a heavy heart thinking that I wasn’t going to get the job because age was a factor.”

Janice added that a follow up call from the management at the chain further exacerbated the issue, with one person telling her they tended only to look at people in the 18 to 30 age category for the role.

When she found out she had not got the job Janice said it had an ‘immediate impact’ on her.

“I had a strange feeling inside, a real kind of feeling of loss and I thought what is this about? I felt like I had lost something, that I had moved from youth into old age.

“It jumped generations on me, so that was the impact on me. That really got me down and it felt like that door was closed.

“I was surprised to be asked about my age, and I believe that that is why I turned down for the job. ”

Since her ordeal Janice is now employed as a trade union official and believes her experience with Domino’s influenced that move to work in that area. She added it was not an easy decision to take the case through the Equality Commission.

“I didn’t take the case lightly. From the start it was about the learning in this, how can we change things and make things different.

“However, my reason for taking the case to the Equality Commission was about trying to make sure that more employers and HR people know about the law, and that people will know that you can challenge age and sex discrimination if you run into them – and you can move on after it. I now have a busy and rewarding job that I love.”

A spokesperson for Domino’s Pizza said the franchisee was no longer related to the company and the branch is under new management.

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