A sales boss who said he didn’t want a “team of bald-headed 50-year-old men” committed age discrimination, a tribunal has ruled.
Mark Jones, 61, was awarded more than £70,000 after his manager Philip Hesketh said he wanted to “change the dynamics” of the company’s workforce towards “high energy” and “youthful” workers.
Mr Hesketh, who is himself bald, voiced disappointment that candidates for a recent job at the mobile phone firm had been “mirror images” of himself.
The hearing heard how the firm, Tango Networks Ltd, had “chipped away” at an “undynamic” Mr Jones as part of a “firm plan” to remove him from his £60,000-a-year job.
The panel also heard how Mr Hesketh had made the comment: “I don’t want a team of bald-headed 50-year-old men – I want to change the dynamics” while interviewing prospective employees.
When Mr Jones was put on a “sham” performance improvement plan, he raised a grievance which was rejected – in what the tribunal called a “rubber stamping exercise” to ‘cover Mr Hesketh’s back’.
After resigning In March 2021, he took Tango Networks Ltd to court, and was awarded £71,441 after the tribunal ruled the firm had discriminated against him.
“Mr Hesketh perceived Mr Jones as un-dynamic and he associated more dynamic people with the characteristics of younger people,” the panel concluded.
It was heard Mr Hesketh had described desirable colleagues or candidates as “high energy”, “energetic” and “youthful”.
Employment Judge Ian Miller, said: “Mr Jones was replaced, initially, by at least one younger person doing the same job.
“Mr Hesketh referred to wanting to change the dynamics of the team, and he wanted a more diverse workforce.
“In our view, the evidence about this is enough to reverse the burden of proof – we could conclude that, whether consciously or unconsciously, Mr Hesketh perceived Mr Jones as un-dynamic and he associated more dynamic people with the characteristics of younger people.”
His age discrimination and some harassment claims were also successful, for which he was awarded £20,000 injury to feelings, alongside an unfair dismissal sum of £28,807.
The total payment received, including payable tax and interest, was £71,441.
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