Employment Advice

Age Discrimination in Employment

Employment Tribunal cases around race and sex discrimination are, unfortunately fairly common. Cases relating to age discrimination are a rarer beast and so it was with interest that we read the recent decision of the Employment Tribunal in Cowie -v- Vesuvius Holdings Limited (and others).

16 Mar 2022

Team name
Esther Marshall

Esther Marshall

Mr Cowie, 58, was employed by Vesuvius as a Global Business Unit President, having worked his way up through the company for many years. At a meeting in 2018 he was told by the CEO that he was “an old fossil” who “didn’t know how to manage millennials”. In 2019 Mr Cowie was dismissed on notice, on grounds of poor performance. He appealed against his dismissal, and lodged a grievance, neither of which were upheld. Mr Cowie’s replacement was seven years his junior.

In a Judgment which runs to 75 pages, the Tribunal recounts a working environment in which employees in their early 50s were seen as “seasoned” members of staff ready for their “last campaign”. There was a policy within the business that younger candidates (“young blood”) should be sought for management roles and it was alleged that there was a 45 year maximum age for those roles.

The Tribunal found that the reason for Mr Cowie’s dismissal was his age, rendering the dismissal unfair and discriminatory. There will be a separate remedy hearing to determine the level of compensation to be paid by Vesuvius – given Mr Cowie’s senior role and commensurate salary, this is likely to be substantial.

M&P Commentary

Esther Marshall, Senior Associate in the Dispute Resolution team, said:

“This case highlights how an employer’s drive for innovation and “fresh blood” was in fact an act of discrimination against a senior employee. Employers should recognise that older employees often have a wealth of experience and other qualities which can be real assets. Use of terminology which perpetuates the myth that older employees cannot also be dynamic or innovative is likely to be discriminatory.

Employers should make sure that their recruitment practices don’t discriminate against older candidates, and that there is no attempt to phase out more senior staff members in favour of younger candidates.

Age discrimination is often overlooked by employers – a review of your staff handbook / equality and diversity policy could head off any potential issues before they arise.”


Ranked highly in Romford and Brentwood for solicitor firms

The service I received from Allison was exceptional. Always highly professional and informative.
Mullis and Peake are very efficient, professional and friendly company to deal with. Excellent service throughout.
Excellent, swift service from Esther at Mullis & Peake. Showed clear expertise in her field & walked me through everything patiently & thoroughly.
Company and Commercial
I found the service provided was excellent from start to finish, with our requirements met in a timely manner throughout.
Staff very helpful and friendly. Trudi was easy to talk to and to understand the procedure.
Dispute resolution
We contacted Martyn to deal with a sensitive Will dispute and we can’t thank him enough for his commitment and hard work.
Residential Property
Very prompt. Experienced. Expert. Friendly.
Commercial Property
Excellent service and far quicker than previous negotiations using a different solicitor.
At all times I was kept informed about the progress of the case and everything was completed in a timely fashion.
Personal Injury
Martyn undertook and guided me through the lengthy process [of a personal injury case], and after much work, achieved a successful result.

Related News insights

Contested Wills and Financial Provision, Legal, Contested wills and financial provision
Who is able to bring a contested probate claim?
Contested Wills and Financial Provision, Legal
Organise your affairs to avoid disappointed beneficiaries as life expectancy increases
Movers & Shakers, Mullis & Peake, Business
Congratulations and Promotions – November 23
Legal, Residential Property, Residential Property
Four things to be aware of before buying a property at auction