In October 2011, Ms Thornton started employment with Le Maître Ltd (“Le Maître”) as a Live-In Housekeeper/Companion. The role included household cleaning, cooking and ironing plus companion to an elderly gentleman, Harold Berlinski (HB), with early dementia but no medical issues.
Ms Thornton’s employment was terminated on 12 February 2016 at the age of 73. Ms Thornton believed that her dismissal was because of her age and that Le Maître deemed her too old to continue caring for HB.
Ms Thornton brought a claim of direct age discrimination in relation to her dismissal. She also submitted claims of unfair dismissal, breach of the Working Time Regulations (weekly rest periods) and failure to provide a statement of employment particulars.
The Tribunal dismissed Ms Thornton’s age discrimination claim.
There was a dispute about the age Ms Thornton gave on her appointment, as on her P46 starter form, she recorded her date of birth as 1949, and in evidence stated that this data of birth came from her driving licence (despite her driving licence actually showing it as 1947). After more consideration, Ms Thornton realised that she was in fact born in 1942.
Given that none of her official documentation referred to 1949 as her year of birth, the Tribunal decided that Le Maître would have believed Ms Thornton to be older than she actually was, based on the reliance on the P46. At the time of her appointment, Le Maître would have believed Ms Thornton to be 61 (going on 62) years old, when in fact she was 68. Although the definition of direct age discrimination requires the discrimination be on grounds of age rather than a specific age, that was not how Ms Thornton had argued her case. She specifically claims that she was dismissed because of her age. For this reason, her claim failed.
The Tribunal upheld Ms Thornton’s claims of unfair dismissal, breach of the Working Time Regulations (weekly rest periods) and failure to provide a statement of employment particulars. Le Maître was ordered to pay Ms Thornton sums of £2,850, £73.56 and £1,900 in relation to each claim respectively (a total of £4,823.56).
Mr S Thornton v Le Maitre Ltd, 20 June 2017, case number 2301127/2016