Calling an employee 'granny' could be ageist - even if they are one

Calling an employee 'granny' could be ageist - even if they are one
Philip Toscano
Max Parry

By Max Parry

Published: 29/07/2021

- 05:43

Updated: 29/07/2021

- 05:46

Anne Dopson, 62, legally challenged her employer after she was referred to as a grandma in a car review in 2017

A tribunal has ruled that referring to an employee as a grandmother could be considered discriminatory, even if the individual in question is one.

Anne Dopson, 62, legally challenged her employer after she was referred to as a grandma in a car review in 2017.

Mrs Dopson, argued the review was "a dig at my age" and had "raised a laugh in the office", despite the fact she has a grandson, the tribunal heard.

The grandmother of three later resigned from her £50k a year job and claimed her employers were discriminating against her on account of her age.

However, although a judge ruled the review was "detrimental" and "less favourable" because it referred to her age, the case failed as it ran out of time.

The review, which was read out at the tribunal, stated: "So the Kadjar has gone back after a year of service on our fleet.

"In that time myself, Luke Wikner, Nat Middleton, Alex Grant and Anne Dopson have all spent a fair amount of time behind the wheel, which basically means it has had three spells as family transport, one as a ride for the bachelor about town and the other as comfy wheels for a grandmother.

"You can choose who applies to which category. But the point is this: it has performed very well in all roles, being stylish on the outside and functionally superb on the inside. Very impressed indeed, as we all were with the Kadjar."

Mrs Dopson contacted her managing director to argue that being referred to as a grandma "doesn't exactly sit well at the moment".

She said: "I have no problem with being a grandma and I love and have been called Grandma since 1990 by marriage, and for the last seven years since Tom was born and delight in taking every opportunity to show his pictures to all and sundry, but I don't agree with what could be perceived as a dig at my age."

The formal complaint was rejected before Mrs Dopson appealed, the tribunal heard.

The tribunal heard Mrs Dopson went on sick leave in May 2017 and never returned.

Luke Wikner, looked into her appeal which was again rejected. Mrs Dopson claimed this was "not impartial", the tribunal heard.

She resigned in October 2017 and filed a claim for unfair dismissal, wrongful dismissal and age discrimination.

Mrs Dopson's age discrimination claim failed due to it being an "isolated incident" said the tribunal. The tribunal heard it was published over three months before Mrs Dopson made her claim, outside the "primary time limit".

Oliver Hyams, the employment judge, concluded: "Turning to the claim about the reference to Mrs Dopson having used the review vehicle as "comfy wheels for a grandmother", we accepted that the article was detrimental treatment and that it was less favourable treatment of Mrs Dopson because of her age, i.e. direct discrimination."

Judge Hyams went on: "That article was not relied on as part of an accumulation of conduct which, taken together, amounted to a breach of the implied term of trust and confidence. The only thing done by Stag Publications that was in any way wrongful was the way in which Mr Wikner dealt with Mrs Dopson's grievance."

Mrs Dopson's unfair dismissal claim, as well as her claims for wrongful dismissal and age discrimination all failed and were dismissed.

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