A British teenager has become the youngest person ever to win an age discrimination case after being fired from her Saturday job for being too young.
Hazel Cassidy worked two shifts in a cafe in Ayreshire when she had just turned 14.
While the majority of age discrimination claims involve employees being too old, the teenager said she was told she was being dismissed on health and safety grounds.
She told an employment tribunal in Glasgow she felt offended, upset and distressed over the sacking.
The panel ruled she was the victim of direct discrimination and ordered the firm involved to pay her £2,800 in damages.
In December 2019, Hazel Cassidy had completed a trial shift at an equestrian centre owned by the Daimler Foundation near Kilmarnock, which has a cafe and restaurant.
The panel heard that she’d given her age when she applied for the position and filled in forms that included her date of birth.
At the end of her shift, where she waited on tables and worked at the till the front of house manager Malcolm Easy told the teenager he was satisfied with her.
The following Saturday, under the impression she’d passed her trial shift, Hazel Cassidy worked for four hours.
But as she was taking an order at the till another boss told her she shouldn’t be doing that and she was given two plates to deliver to a table instead, and the panel heard that she was sent home early because the cafe was quiet.
Mr Easy later called her to say he enjoyed working with her but she was being dismissed as the accountant had said she was too young for health and safety reasons.
The company claimed she was dismissed because the role was too demanding.
However, the panel ruled that there was no indication of high demand, as the teenager had been sent home when the cafe was quiet.
The board, headed by Employment Judge Sandy Kemp, concluded that Mr Easy said that he’d told her that the role was too severe and too stressful and that she wasn’t able to cope with the severity of the job.
Initially, he said that he’d sat her down, but later he said that it had been by phone.
The tribunal decided that it was far more plausible that Mr Easy had said something to the effect that Hazel Cassidy was too young for the role, and that the accountant had said that it was for health and safety reasons.
I can kind of see an argument from both sides, but if she was staying away from cooking appliances and only serving or working the till et cetera then that should have been fine, and all young people should be allowed to have a part-time job before they leave school because otherwise, we’d just be wrapping teenagers up in cotton wool, and it’s better than entering the workforce for the first time after they leave school and not being able to cope.
The problem is there isn’t a lot of jobs for teenagers these days. Years ago people used to have newspapers delivered, but barely anyone has a newspaper delivered these days, and employers have to leap through hoops, including having DBS checks, suitable breaks, shorter working hours et cetera, and for an employer, it’s more trouble than it’s worth.
The essence that revolves around this is that the company actively hired her knowing her age and then backtracked and you can’t just dismiss someone because you made a decision and then you change your mind.
Teenagers should be allowed to spread their wings because it gives them character building and hard work, which means that they have to be focused and confident, and many children were working down the coal mines at that age, there was no health and safety back then!