<p>A former Asda worker has won an age discrimination case against the supermarket </p>

A former Asda worker has won an age discrimination case against the supermarket

Asda worker wins age discrimination case against supermarket

Joan Hutchinson said she felt she was ‘pushed out’

Laura Hampson
Thursday 06 January 2022 18:31
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A 75-year-old woman with dementia has successfully sued Asda for age discrimination.

Joan Hutchinson resigned from her role at the Deeside, Wales outlet of the supermarket chain after her boss asked if she wanted to retire.

Ms Hutchinson said she felt she was being “pushed out of the business” and made to feel that she was “too old to be there”.

Prior to her resignation, Ms Hutchinson had worked at Asda for 20 years and her colleagues said they had noticed her slowing down at work, becoming “flustered” and losing her personal belongings.

The panel was told that she “refused” to speak to occupational health or have her bosses speak to her family.

When the pandemic hit in March 2020, Ms Hutchinson had to isolate and her manager, Stacey Weston-Laing – who delivered shopping to her while she isolated – asked her if she wanted to retire.

Joanne Clitherow, Ms Hutchinson’s daughter, told the tribunal that Weston-Laing had asked her mother twice during lockdown if she wanted to retire.

This question was later found by the tribunal to be discrimination.

When she returned to the supermarket following isolation, the panel was told that another colleague “violated her dignity” but going through her bag when she could not find her keys and bus pass.

Ms Hutchinson resigned from the supermarket chain on 25 September 2020 and later took Asda to a tribunal for age and disability discrimination as well as constructive dismissal.

Employment judge Alison Frazer said of the case: “In our finding, given the background of [Ms Hutchinson] having been asked to retire, we find that when [Asda] raised concerns with her this was unwanted and created a humiliating environment for her.

“We find that this is something that would not have been raised with an employee who was not of retirement age in similar circumstances in terms of presenting medical symptoms.

“We find, therefore, that the repeated mention of retirement to [her] as a possible option was direct age discrimination. It made [Ms Hutchinson] feel as though she was being pushed out of the business or that [Asda] felt she was too old to be there.

“On the basis that this was mentioned on more than one occasion we also find it amounted to age-related harassment.”

The hearing was held in Cardiff and the panel was told that her son, Chris Hutchinson, noticed she was exhibiting signs of dementia in 2017. She was not formally diagnosed until 2020.

While there’s been no mention of a payout, the tribunal noted that if Ms Hutchinson had carried on working at Asda she could have been fairly dismissed for “reasons of incapacity owing to the deterioration in her condition”.

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