I’m always fascinated by cases that revolve around what is and isn’t acceptable to say to another person in the workplace.
The latest case to go to employment tribunal involved a hairdressing apprentice who took legal action after a colleague told her to ‘grow up’.
Twenty-year-old Jasmine Stunell was a trainee hairdresser at a salon in Surrey when the alleged incident occurred.
She told the tribunal that a colleague told her to ‘grow up’ and “pull herself together” while she was being ill in the salon’s bathroom.
Ms Stunell also said that a colleague told other members of staff in an online group chat that the apprentice should be replaced by someone more reliable.
After leaving the salon Ms Stunell launched a claim for age discrimination and constructive dismissal against her former employer.
At the hearing, all claims were rejected and the tribunal concluded that none of the comments made amounted to age discrimination as they could have been applied to a person of any age.
It found that the term ‘grow up’ could be said to a person of any age who was acting in a childish way. Similarly, the comment questioning Ms Stunell’s reliability could have been made about any staff member who was late or disappeared without explanation during the day.
The tribunal concluded that Ms Stunell had not been bullied or discriminated against at work, stating: “In all the circumstances, the tribunal finds that Ms Stunell’s claims are not well-founded and are dismissed.”
While the comments made about the apprentice hairdresser might appear unkind on the surface, it’s clear that they don’t amount to discrimination. For a discrimination claim to succeed, the tribunal needs to believe that it’s more likely than not – on the balance of probabilities – that the claimant has been treated less favourably because of a protected characteristic – in this case age.
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