Industrial Tribunal: Man discriminated on grounds of age awarded £3,000

A 63-year-old man who was told by a company in Northern Ireland that they were ‘looking for a younger person’ to fill an employment vacancy, has been awarded £3,155.18 after it was found that the company discriminated against him on the grounds of his age.

Finding that the company had breached the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006, Employment Judge Leonard said that the man was given no opportunity on the grounds of his age.


In early 2018, Spring & Airbrake Ireland Limited placed an employment vacancy as a store person/van driver with Antrim Jobs and Benefits Office, and in February 2018 Patrick Gerald Matier attended the office in order to sign on for Job Seeker’s Allowance.

Upon receiving information about the vacancy, Mr Matier decided to visit Spring & Airbrake’s premises personally, rather than merely making a telephone call, which he thought might give him a better opportunity of success.

Mr Matier drove with a friend, Mrs McCallum, to Spring & Airbrake’s premises at Nutts Corner, Co. Antrim where he enquired about the job. Mr Matier alleged that he spoke to a man at the trade counter who stated that he was ‘the boss’, and that although the lady who normally dealt with these matters was not here, he would take Mr Matier’s details.

‘…looking for a younger person’

Mr Matier alleged that when he was asked his age, he told the man that he was 63, and asked if this would go against him. He said that the man replied ‘Well I was looking for a younger person who I could train and move upstairs’. Mr Matier enquired as to whether there was any point in continuing the conversation, to which the man replied ‘no not really’.

Mr Matier told the tribunal that he returned to the car and discussed the interaction with Mrs McCallum, who was angry that Mr McCallum had been told he was too old, and said that this was not allowed. Mr Matier’s evidence in this regard was corroborated by oral evidence given to the tribunal by Mrs McCallum. Mr Matier’s evidence was also corroborated by documentation which recorded Mr Matier’s attendance at the Jobs and Benefits Office, where he was referred to the Labour Relations Agency for advice on the matter.

Events fundamentally in contention

Judge Leonard said that the events at Spring & Airbrake’s premises were fundamentally in contention between the parties. Spring & Airbrake’s evidence was that no-one had approached the trade counter seeking employment, that no-one confirmed having such a conversation with Mr Matier, and that no-one confirmed Mr Matier’s attendance at the premises.

Finding the evidence supporting Mr Matier’s version of events to be ‘the more cogent and credible’, Judge Leonard concluded, as a matter of fact, that Mr Matier did attend the premises at Nutts Corner, and that it was ‘more probable than not that the conversation transpired as described by [Mr Matier]’.

Mr Matier given no opportunity on the grounds of his age

Applying the provisions of Regulation 7 of the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006, Judge Leonard explained that it is unlawful for an employer in relation to employment by him at an establishment in Northern Ireland (such as Spring & Airbrake) to discriminate against a person (such as Mr Matier) in the arrangements made for the purposes of determining to whom the respondent should offer employment.

Examining the facts and drawing permissible inferences, in the context of these statutory provisions and the general law, Judge Leonard concluded that Mr Matier had proved facts from which the tribunal could conclude unlawful discrimination in the case (Igen v Wong [2005] IRLR 258, Barton v Investec Henderson Crosthwaite Securities Limited [2003] IRLR 332, Madarassy v Nomura International Plc [2007] IRLR 246, Laing v Manchester City Council [2006] IRLR 748 and Arthur v Northern Ireland Housing Executive and Another [2007] NICA 25 considered). Judge Leonard said that the statutory burden had passed to Spring & Airbrake which failed to discharge that burden to the effect that there was no unlawful discrimination, upon grounds of age, in the matter.

Finding that the provisions of Regulation 7(1)(a) of the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006 were breached by Spring & Airbrake in that Mr Matier suffered unlawful discrimination on grounds of age in relation to the determination of whether or not he should be offered employment, Judge Leonard said that Mr Matier was, in effect, given no opportunity on the grounds of his age.

As a result, Mr Matier suffered an injury to feelings and the tribunal ordered Spring & Airbrake to pay Mr Matier £3,155.18 in compensation.

  • by Seosamh Gráinséir for Irish Legal News