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Home | News | Manager was discriminated against while on maternity leave

Manager was discriminated against while on maternity leave

February 22nd 2021
 

A middle-aged father who was overlooked for a role in the NHS because he was “very different” to the person who had previously held the position has won his claim of age discrimination.

Joanne Stronach Director and Head of Employment & HR reports.

Mr N Clements applied for the role as a band 7 project manager at Guy’s and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust in June 2018.

The interviews were conducted by Dr Charlotte Lee and two of her colleagues.

Mr Clements scored highest in the initial round of interviews with a mark of 81.5 out of a possible 105.

He was closely followed by a younger female applicant who had a score of 80. This applicant reportedly referred to herself as a ‘millennial’ and a ‘feminist’ on her social media pages.

The applicants were discussed by the interview team and despite Clements achieving the best scores, there were concerns about whether he would be a “good fit” with the team which was made up of women in their early 30s.

The decision was made to hire Clements’ younger female rival for the post.

Dr Lee spoke to Clements on the phone to explain the decision. Clements said that during this conversation, Dr Lee told him she would feel “uncomfortable” asking him to do things given that he had “an eleven-year-old daughter”.

He also claimed Lee said the role would “encourage members to develop their careers” and that, given Clements’ maturity, it was “better to employ someone at an early stage of their career”.

Clements took the case to the Employment Tribunal, which ruled in his favour.

It heard that Dr Lee had only recently joined the trust herself and had no experience or training in conducting interviews. It concluded that she would find it “difficult to manage someone who was much older than her” and used the reference to his daughter “to illustrate the maturity point”.

Judge Hyams-Parish concluded that the trust had discriminated against Clements because of his age.

The tribunal also said that the evidence for sex discrimination was “not quite as overt as that relating to age”.

However, the focus on trying to find the ‘best fit’ may well have contributed to the decision to hire the younger female candidate instead given “the gender of people who made the decision”.

A spokesperson for the Health Innovation Network, which is part of Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: “We’d like to apologise again to Mr Clements. The tribunal remedy hearing in December 2020 stated that while there were flaws in this specific recruitment process, those involved were not malicious or intentionally discriminatory.”

The trust was ordered to pay Clements £5,000 for injury to feelings, together with interest of £969.86, and compensation of £1,468.38.

For more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law please contact Joanne on 01228 516666 or click here to send her an email.

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