Monday, 7 June 2010

NHS age discrimination manager awarded £147,000

A senior NHS manager has been awarded £147,000 after winning a battle to prove that she was passed over for promotion because of her age.

An employment tribunal in Leeds found that Linda Sturdy, 60, who worked in the breast screen clinic at the city’s Seacroft Hospital for 17 years, was subject to age discrimination when a colleague 13 years her junior and with 35 years less experience than her was promoted to run the unit.

Sturdy had been the preferred candidate for the role until she revealed she had just over three years to go until she hit the retirement age. A manager at the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust told her: “I didn’t realise you were so old,” before giving the promotion to the younger woman.

Sturdy was subsequently sacked in May 2008 after refusing to take a more junior position.

Last year, Sturdy was awarded £40,000 in damages after it was proved that her managers had behaved in what was described this week as a “high-handed, malicious, insulting and oppressive” fashion.

According to the Yorkshire Evening Post, Judge Christine Lee, said at the hearing that her dismissal had broken employment law and that the Trust was trying to “defend the indefensible”.

“It’s one thing to have a threat of dismissal handing over you and another for it to be carried out in such a high-handed fashion”, she added.

The latest payout was to cover Sturdy’s loss of income and pension, injury to feelings, aggravated damages and any interest owed. She now intends to pursue the Trust for legal costs.

Jackie Green, HR director at the Trust, said that every effort had been made to resolve matters outside of court and avoid further expenditure on the case, which came out of public funds.

“The Trust has accepted that mistakes were made in the handling of this original issue, and that regrettably Mrs Sturdy has, as a consequence, been the subject of less favourable treatment and is, therefore, entitled to compensation on that basis,” she added.

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