Man discriminated against on grounds of age is awarded £3,000 by Industrial Tribunal

Early in 2018 Patrick Gerald Matier went to the Antrim Jobs and Benefits Office to sign on for Job Seeker’s Allowance. He saw that a company in Northern Ireland, Spring & Airbrake Ireland Limited was looking for a store person/van driver. Rather than simply making a telephone call, Mr Matier decided to visit the premises personally and apply for the job. He thought that arriving in person would give him a better chance of success.

Along with a friend Mrs McCallum, Mr Matier drove to Spring & Airbrake’s offices at Nutts Corner, Co. Antrim. Mr Matier alleged that he spoke to a man at the trade counter who informed him that he was ‘the boss’. Although normally there was a lady who dealt with applications, she was not there, and he said that he would take down the details.

Mr Matier alleged that the man behind the counter asked his age. Mr Matier told him that he was 63 years old. Mr Matier also asked if this would go against him, to which the man replied that he was looking for a younger person whom he could train and send upstairs. On hearing this Mr Matier asked if there was any point in continuing the discussion. The man replied that there was no point in any further conversation.

On returning to the car, Mr Matier discussed the incident with his friend Mrs McCallum, who became angry on learning that Mr Matier had been told he was too old. Mrs McCallum later gave evidence of the conversation at the hearing. Further documentation was supplied by the Jobs and Benefits Office where Mr Matier was referred to the Labour Relations Agency about the matter.

Employment Judge Leonard ruled that Mr Matier was not given any opportunity on the grounds of his age, and that Spring & Airbrake was in breach of the Employment Equality Regulations (Northern Ireland 2006).

The judge ruled in favour of Mr Matier even though the company denied the statement that anyone had come to apply for the post and stated that no-one had carried out any conversation with Mr Matier. No-one at the company would confirm that he had been there.

Judge Leonard found that the evidence supporting Mr Matier’s version was ‘the more cogent and credible’ and concluded that he did in fact visit the company premises, and that it was more likely than not that the conversation had taken place.

On applying Regulation 7 of the Employment Equality Regulations (Northern Ireland) Judge Leonard stated that it is unlawful for any employer to discriminate against a person in the arrangements made for the purposes of determining to whom the respondent should offer employment. Spring & Airbrake had failed to discharge the burden of unlawful discrimination on grounds of age. Mr Matier was not given any opportunity for employment because of his age.

Because of this incident Mr Matier had suffered personal injury to his feelings. Spring & Airbrake was ordered to pay him £3,155/18 in compensation.

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