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Sacked 89 Year-old Medical Secretary Awarded $381,000

Sacked 89 year-old medical secretary awarded $381,000

An elderly medical secretary who was sacked from her job because she could not use a computer has been awarded a record $A381,000.

The figure is the highest ever awarded by the employment tribunal which found she had been unfairly dismissed, and was discriminated against on the basis of age and disability.

The details

Eileen Jolly, 89, was told by her bosses at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading in the UK, that she was “stuck” in her old secretarial ways, and accused her of a “catastrophic failure in performance” after errors were made with some patient records.

She told the employment tribunal that she felt “humiliated” when she was escorted out of the hospital in January 2017.

Worker kept sacking secret

Mrs Jolly, who suffers from a heart condition and has arthritis, said she had trouble sleeping and was prescribed anti-depressants after she was sacked.

The tribunal was told that she hid the news from her husband and family, telling them she had retired because she felt a “deep sense of shame”.

She was admitted to hospital with tachycardia after reading a report from her managers who made hurtful comments about her age and health, the tribunal heard.

Eileen Jolly didn’t tell her husband or family she had been sacked because she felt a sense of shame.

Training not adequate

Judge Andrew Gumbiti-Zimuto was highly critical of hospital management, finding that training given to Mrs Jolly was not adequate and that no further training was offered.

In his judgement he wrote:

“The role that the claimant understood she was performing, she was performing competently.  There is a suspicion of the claimant being a scapegoat, the claimant was not offered training where it might be considered appropriate.”

Judge Gumbiti-Zimuto upheld Ms Jolly’s claims for unfair dismissal, age discrimination, disability discrimination and breach of contract.

Lesson for all employers

Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from Industrial Relations Claims said Australian employers cannot discriminate against someone on the basis of age or disability.

“To sack someone because you consider them ‘past it’ is not only unlawful, it is also bad business practice, because older workers can bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to a company,” he said.

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If you have been unfairly dismissed from employment, or if you have experienced discrimination based on your age or a disability, you may be entitled to compensation or reinstatement.

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