Ageism and antisemitism in employment: Dooley

One we missed: a classic example of how not to treat staff (or simply how not to behave in any circumstances).

In Mrs Angela Dooley v Mr Lee Williams & Ors [2019] UKET 3200819/2018, handed down on the last day of 2019, Mrs Dooley, who was Jewish, was employed at the Woolston Manor Golf & Country Club as a Sales Manager. In January 2017 she applied for the new role of Sales Manager (which, evidently, was a rather different position from the position as Sales Manager that she already occupied). Subsequently however, Mr Williams presented her with a new contract of employment that described her role as that of Sales Manager working 24 hours a week for a salary of £15,000 and told her to sign the contract without reviewing its contents; otherwise, she would be immediately dismissed [30]. In January 2018, she was told that her role was now redundant and she was dismissed with immediate effect [54 & 55].

The nub of Mrs Dooley’s complaint was that Mr Williams had harassed her about her age and her Judaism and had victimised her after she had lodged a grievance in August 2017 [1]. Her allegations were that, at various times, Mr Williams had made regular comments about her between early 2017 and January 2018, as follows: “She’s old and lost the plot”; “Don’t listen to her, she’s old and doesn’t know what she is talking about”; “You’re past it; Computers are for young people – not you”; “You’re too old for this”; “You’re too old to be working;  I can get someone younger to work full time and on less pay” [19.1]. He also made comments about her Jewish faith: “All Jews are rich”; “You can deal with them as one of the tribe”; “You must have lots of money – you’re Jewish”; “Jews always want something for nothing”; and that Jews were “demanding and very tight with their money” [19.5]. She submitted a written grievance about his conduct.

So the principal issues before the Tribunal were these: whether Mr Williams’s conduct had the purpose or effect of violating Mrs Dooley’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for her, and whether her written grievance about his conduct was a protected act within the meaning of section 27 Equality Act 2010 [19.8 & 19.9]. If that was the case:

  • had he subjected her to a detriment because of that protected act by dismissing her on 14 January 2018?;
  • when he dismissed her in 2018 had he treated her less favourably because she was Jewish than he would have treated others who were not Jewish?; and
  • had he discriminated against her on grounds of age?

The Tribunal concluded:

  • that Mr Williams had regularly made the alleged comments about Mrs Dooley’s age and they were matters for which he was liable under section 110 Equality Act 2010 [73-75];
  • that the comments about her Jewish faith had had the effect of violating her dignity and created an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating and offensive environment, given their nature and frequency [79];
  • that the comments were made in the course of Mr Williams’ employment and that he was therefore liable under section 110 Equality Act 2010 [80];
  • that Mrs Dooley’s dismissal was direct discrimination because of her age [83]; and
  • that her dismissal was an act of direct discrimination because of her Jewish faith, contrary to section 13 Equality Act 2010 [85].

Her claim for victimisation contrary to section 27 Equality Act 2010 failed [90].

The Tribunal awarded her a total of £50,000 in compensation, including £20,000 for injury to feelings. [With thanks to @sacrareleges: any comment on my part would be superfluous.]

Cite this article as: Frank Cranmer, "Ageism and antisemitism in employment: Dooley" in Law & Religion UK, 3 August 2022, https://lawandreligionuk.com/2022/08/03/ageism-and-antisemitism-in-employment-dooley/

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