Mr Nolan was employed by CD Bramall Dealership (“Bramall”) from November 2005. Since 2007, he had held the position of Service Team Leader.
Mr Nolan’s line manager, Mr Heeley, subjected Mr Nolan to age-related banter. Mr Heeley had introduced Mr Nolan as his “104 year old Service Team Leader” and had changed the letters on Mr Nolan’s car number plate from “OAB” to “OAP”. Mr Nolan had also been subjected to age-related pranks and nicknames, including referring to him as “Yoda”, the ancient and wizened character in Star Wars. Mr Nolan had never complained about any of this.
In autumn 2011, Bramall carried out a resource review across all 15 of its dealerships. This resulted in a number of decisions to reduce staffing levels at different dealerships. The decision was made to close Mr Nolan’s place of work and make all of its employees redundant. The position of Service Team Leader would also be removed.
Mr Nolan was made redundant with effect from 16 February 2012. He claimed that he was selected for redundancy because of his age and brought claims of unfair dismissal and age discrimination.
The Tribunal upheld Mr Nolan’s claims of unfair dismissal and direct age discrimination.
The Tribunal ruled that the reason for the dismissal was redundancy, but held that Mr Nolan had been selected for redundancy because of his age. Mr Nolan had been selected for redundancy in order to preserve the employment of a younger employee. This was direct age discrimination and rendered the dismissal unfair.
The Tribunal also found that Mr Nolan had proven Mr Heeley’s propensity to use discriminatory language in the workplace. It accepted that the age-related “banter” had been regarded as acceptable. There was a discriminatory work environment and this fostered a culture in which a younger employee would be retained over Mr Nolan.
Nolan v CD Bramall Dealership Ltd t/a Evans Halshaw Motorhouse Worksop, 10th December 2012, Nottingham Employment Tribunal ET/2601000/12