In relation to non-retirement dismissals, the decision in Hussain v Live Nation (Venues) Ltd illustrates the danger for an employer in seeking to play the ‘age card’.
Mr Hussain was dismissed, aged 52, after many years’ service as front of house manager at the Hippodrome Theatre in Bristol for alleged gross misconduct in relation to his behaviour towards his two managers both of whom were younger than him.
The tribunal found that the problems between Mr Hussain and his managers had arisen largely as a result of failings by those managers. It held that Live Nation's decision to dismiss was influenced by an unsubstantiated belief that Mr Hussain was using his age to his advantage and their belief that he was too old to change his ways. The tribunal was, therefore, prepared to draw inferences of discrimination and reverse the burden of proof. Live Nation was unable to satisfy the tribunal that age had not played a part in Mr Hussain’s dismissal. Mr Hussain also succeeded with an unfair dismissal claim but a race discrimination claim was rejected.
Hussain -v- Live Nation (Venues) Ltd(26.2.08, ET case no. 1401186/07)
This case was subsequently referred to the EAT and the EAT overturned this decision. A link to a summary of that case can be found here.