Tribunal hears that banker was dismissed because of his age

A 55-year old banker who was dismissed because of his age has won his appeal against global bank Citigroup. The dismissal was ruled by the employment tribunal as discrimination.

Niels Kirk was told by the company that he was old and set in his ways and dismissed in November 2017. Judge John Goodrich ruled that the dismissal was discriminatory. Mr Kirk had worked as a managing director for Citigroup between June 1991 and November 2017.

After a proposed restructuring (with no notice given to him) Mr Kirk was told that he had been chosen for redundancy. Mr Kirk’s boss at the time, Manolo Falco, global head of banking, denied that he had told Mr Kirk he was old and set in his ways. Judge Goodrich stated that he found this evidence to be less convincing than that given by Mr Kirk.

Senior banker Zdenek Turek told Mr Kirk in 2005 at his year-end assessment that the team was stronger and that the time would come for the next level of bankers to have more opportunities for showing the quality and depth of their customer relationships as well as their abilities to show management capabilities.

When questioned about this statement Citigroup said that they did not accept that the comment was an indication that the company intended to hire younger people. Rather it was simply an opinion expressed by the senior manager.

On scrutinising Mr Kirk’s record at the firm, it was found that he had generally had good ratings over the years although the last few years had not appeared as good.

Even though there had been concerns about Mr Kirk’s performance skills the tribunal was skeptical when Citigroup explained that the replacement for Mr Kirk was Marie-Christine Olive – only slightly younger than Mr Kirk.

After the results of a stress test exercise was carried out to compare Ms Olive’s and Mr Kirk’s skills, Mr Kirk stated that there was not a meaningful conclusion to be drawn as the company had already decided to replace him with Ms Olive.

The tribunal also noted that before Mr Falco met with Mr Kirk on 25th September to inform him of the new structure, he had already met Ms Olive and informed her that she was their choice to fill the position. He also checked that she was still available should an offer be made.

Mr Kirk, when he was told of the decision to release him emailed Mr Falco to say that the decision to oust him obviously had nothing to do with his skills, rather it was because he was ‘set in his ways’ as Mr Falco had mentioned in a previous conversation. Mr Falco did not deny this.

The judge ruled in favour of Mr Kirk, concluding that Mr Falco’s perception of Mr Kirk appeared to be that he was old, while Ms Olive, even though she was only a few years younger, was not old.


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