Comment to ‘grow up’ was not age discrimination

A judge has ruled that being told to behave in a ‘more grown-up’ way when at work was not discriminatory. He dismissed the age and race discrimination claim which was made against the Hippodrome Casino in London.

Ms Mariotti, working as a waitress at the casino, claimed she was discriminated against by a bar supervisor who commented that the claimant should not expect youngsters to do the work and she should behave in a more grown-up way after he saw her arguing with a younger waitress about moving a glass.

On reviewing the claim, the judge ruled that the comment could not be looked at as unfavourable treatment because the supervisor was simply indicating that she was acting in an immature way.

Judge Goodman stated that it is common to find childish or quarrelsome behaviour in children, but adults are expected to have overcome these traits and move on to develop responsible attitudes and actions which are called ‘grown up.’

Ms Mariotti also lodged a claim for discrimination after a colleague called out for someone to help the ‘black girl’ after she suffered a fall at work.

The tribunal agreed that the colleague may well have not remembered the claimant’s name as there were over two hundred staff members on the nightshift. Using the words ‘black girl’ was a way of identifying the person who needed help.

Following a disagreement Ms Mariotti claimed she was labelled as hard to work with. At the time she had offered a discount to a customer and there had been a disagreement with her colleague because of this. Ms Mariotti claimed that she was discriminated against because of her race and age.

The claimant further stated that her induction had been inadequate as she was discriminated against due to her race and age, and also later when the company moved her to a position in a burlesque bar inside the casino.

While she was there, colleagues were allowed additional smoke breaks which she did not take. The casino told the tribunal that the claimant had never requested any extra breaks.

Ms Mariotti took sick leave in November 2019 and did not return to work. She was dismissed due to redundancy in October 2020 along with several other staff members. This was at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and the tribunal ruled that the redundancy process had been handled fairly, with no age or race discrimination. 

The claimant additionally lodged a breach of contract related to pay, but this was dismissed as it was found that she was paid the correct amount.

Senior employment solicitor at Harper James, Ms Lisa Moore stated that the case highlighted just how easy it was for comments to be misconstrued, with even innocent remarks deemed to be discriminatory.

Ms Moore said that the easiest way to avoid these issues was to encourage a diverse culture where all staff are treated with respect, and communication passages are open and inclusive.

Where these values are promoted other staff are likely to follow, and thus the risk of misunderstanding and conflict is reduced.

Ms Moore finished by saying that cases such as this one should be a reminder to employers about the importance of implementing a company-wide equal opportunities policy. It is also essential that management training is in place with regular refresher sessions taking place.

Not only will the training ensure that management and staff have a greater understanding of what language is expected in the workplace, but this can also be used in future legal claims as a partial defence.

A further case in 2021 was heard involving a hair salon. The tribunal ruled that the phrase ‘grow up’ was not age discrimination. 


Go Back to Previous Page