Northern Ireland

Woman awarded damages after 'too old to work' remark

Image caption Anna Stirrup was unfairly dismissed from her job

A Cookstown woman has been awarded almost £25,000 in damages after bringing a successful age discrimination case against her employer.

Anna Stirrup had initially been awarded almost £6,000 last year after her employer, Ufuoma Obahor, made hurtful comments about her age.

Mr Obahor then fired her and Mrs Stirrup brought a second case.

That tribunal also ruled in her favour, awarding £24,147 in compensation.

Mrs Stirrup had worked in Mr Obahor's dry cleaners in Cookstown for three years when the first complaint was made.

He had told her that at the age of 50 she was too old to work five days a week.

The first industrial tribunal in 2010 awarded Mrs Stirrup £5,867 because of the harassment caused by the remarks.

Six weeks later Mr Obahor accused her of gross misconduct and fired her. But a second tribunal found that she had been unlawfully victimised and unfairly dismissed.

Mrs Stirrup was assisted in both her cases by the Equality Commission.

The second tribunal concluded: "Taking account of the timing of the allegations of misconduct against the claimant, we believe that the core reason for the claimant's dismissal was the fact that she had brought an age discrimination claim against the respondent."

Mrs Stirrup said she was "totally delighted" that she was cleared of any wrong-doing and just keen to move on.

"It's never been about the money," she said.

"It's because of hurt feeling when he unlawfully sacked me and that meant it would be very hard for me to get another job after being sacked from my employment.

"I have worked since I was 17 and this was the first time I had ever been even suspended. I found the entire experience very distressing."