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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 because she couldn’t use a computer has been awarded $A381,000.

Consequently, the figure is the highest the employment tribunal has ever awarded.

It found her employer unfairly dismissed her and discriminated against her as a result of her age and disability.

Sacked 89 year-old medical secretary accused of ‘failure in performance’

The Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading in the UK accused 89 year-old Eileen Jolly of being “stuck” in her old secretarial ways.

Additionally, it accused her of a “catastrophic failure in performance” as a result of errors with some patient records.

Consequently, she told the employment tribunal she felt “humiliated” when security escorted her out of the hospital in January 2017.

Worker kept sacking secret

Jolly, who suffers from a heart condition and has arthritis, said she has trouble sleeping.

Doctors have prescribed her anti-depressants as a result of her dismissal.

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

Additionally, doctors admitted her to hospital with tachycardia after she read a report from her managers.

The report made hurtful comments about her age and health, the tribunal heard.

Eileen Jolly.

Training not adequate

Judge Andrew Gumbiti-Zimuto was highly critical of hospital management as a result of its actions.

Furthermore, he described the training given to Jolly as inadequate and noted the hospital offered no further training.

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 Jolly’s claims for

  • unfair dismissal,
  • age discrimination,
  • disability discrimination,
  • and breach of contract.

Lesson for all employers

Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from IR Claims says Australian employers cannot discriminate against someone based on age or disability.

“If you sack someone because you consider them ‘past it’ is not only unlawful, it is also bad business practice,” he said.

“Older workers can bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to a company,” he said.

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