A claim of age-related harassment fails after there was no evidence to support any of the allegations.
Quick Snack News Caerphilly is a family run partnership managed by Cara Bradford and operating out of Caerphilly train station.
Alannah Davies began to work for Quick Snack News Caerphilly in May 2014 when she was 16 years old. She left in September 2016 just after her 19th birthday. There were no issues with her employment at this time.
In May 2018, Cara Bradford posted a Facebook status looking for new staff. The status said that applicants for the role must be flexible and experienced, and that it was restricted to “Over 25’s only”.
Alannah Davies saw the post and was interested in applying and returning to work after having given birth to her first child. She was told by Cara Bradford that she was not looking to “employ youngsters again really”. Nevertheless, Quick Snack News Caerphilly recruited Alannah Davies and she began work that month.
Alannah Davies alleged that Cara Bradford had made a number of age-related comments that amounted to harassment, including that she kept shifts short to stop “you youngsters from getting bored and trying to slack off” and, in relation to Alannah Davies’s new child, said that she was “only a baby who had a baby”.
Alannah Davies contracted an ear infection and was subsequently dismissed by Cara Bradford in August 2018. Cara Bradford told her issues like this were too common and that she could no longer rely on her. Cara Bradford sent her a text to confirm this.
Alannah Davies brought claims of direct age discrimination in relation to her dismissal, being overlooked for overtime, being refused last minute sick leave, and being more scrutinised in her work compared to an older colleague. She also brought a claim of age-related harassment in relation to the comments about younger mothers.
The Employment Tribunal dismissed all of her claims.
Direct age discrimination
The Employment Tribunal held that the Facebook status did give rise to a real inference of age discrimination and shift the burden of proof. However there were facts which were able to provide an adequate explanation, principally the fact that she was willing to hire those under 25. This fact persuaded the Employment Tribunal that the dismissal was unrelated to age. The Employment Tribunal held that Alannah Davies was dismissed because she was deemed to be unreliable, not because of her age.
In relation to the other allegations, the Employment Tribunal found that there had been no less favourable treatment. There was no evidence that Alannah Davies had been refused sick leave nor that she was scrutinised to a greater degree than any other colleague.
Because of this lack of evidence, the direct discrimination claims were dismissed.
The Employment Tribunal held that, on the balance of probabilities, Cara Bradford did not make the age-related comments alleged by Alannah Davies.
As there was no further evidence suggesting whether the comments were or were not made, there was no evidential basis to uphold this claim.