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Waste worker loses age discrimination claim after being offered a chair by colleague

The case of Mr F E v Severn Waste Services Limited, where a 66-year-old waste worker’s claims of age discrimination were dismissed. Details of Mr. FE’s allegations, including incidents of perceived discrimination and harassment. Uncover the tribunal’s ruling, which acknowledged certain unusual behaviors while ultimately concluding they did not constitute age discrimination. Read about the complexities of workplace discrimination and the legal nuances involved in such cases.

In Mr F E v Severn Waste Services Limited a 66-year-old waste worker has lost an age discrimination case after claiming he was targeted for receiving a chair from a colleague. Mr FE, employed by

Severn Waste Services (SWS), alleged discrimination and harassment, suggesting his coworkers aimed to push him out due to his age.

Despite being the sole worker over 66 at SWS, with four others over 60 and many over 50 among the 80-person workforce, Mr FE, who had been with the company since 2006, was terminated in October 2023.

During the tribunal, Mr FE cited several incidents he deemed discriminatory, including being reassigned to stations handling heavier materials while others weren’t. He also highlighted being singled out for a chair offer by a colleague, a gesture he felt was conspicuous as no one else received such treatment.

In another incident, Mr FE notified SWS of his illness, receiving a warning letter for unauthorised absence, an error the company acknowledged. He noted that a younger colleague faced no such reprimand.

In July 2022, Mr FE filed a grievance citing stress and harassment due to altered duties and the absenteeism warning. Though the company apologised for the letter mishap, other grievances were not upheld.

Following another duty change requiring him to lift heavier materials, Mr FE lodged another complaint. SWS assured him of support to pause operations and seek assistance.

After a 15-month sick leave, Mr FE was dismissed. SWS claimed to have provided extensive welfare support during this period, including referrals to occupational health, demonstrating their commitment to retaining him.

While the tribunal dismissed Mr FE ‘s claim, it noted the chair offer as “unusual.”

“The question is whether a reasonable employee in the claimant’s situation could see it as detrimental, that is to his disadvantage. Given that we found it was an unusual thing to do, in our judgment the claimant could legitimately conclude that he was being treated differently to others and therefore disadvantageously,” the judgment said.

The tribunal noted that the transfers within the facility demonstrated “a failure to recognize the genuine and significant health needs of the claimant.” It also highlighted SWS’s inadequate record-keeping practices. However, the tribunal concluded that these actions did not constitute age discrimination.

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