Northern Ireland

Age discrimination: Former Dunnes worker awarded £40,000

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Media captionGloria Dunbar said she felt "very hurt and let down"

A Northern Ireland woman who claimed Dunnes Stores discriminated against her because of her age has been awarded £40,000 in settlement.

Gloria Dunbar had worked as a security manager for Dunnes (Bangor Ltd) since 2005.

When she was told to leave, she was 63 years old and working at the store's Annadale Embankment, Belfast branch.

Settling the case, Dunnes did not accept that it had broken equality legislation.

It said it was committed to the principles of equality.

Ms Dunbar said that after she was 60 years old, she was placed on a number of contracts at the store until 2014, when her contract was terminated.

"I felt very hurt and let down," she said.

"I was always a loyal and hardworking member of staff, yet for the three years before I was dismissed, I was placed on fixed term yearly contracts, unlike the other security managers."

She said they were younger than she was and she believed that she had been put on the fixed term contract and dismissed because of her age.

Justified

Since 2011, there has been no automatic right for an employer to fix a retirement point based on age.

The law provides that if an employer wishes to have an age-based retirement policy, it must be justified.

Ms Dunbar took her case with the support of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.

Its chief executive, Dr Evelyn Collins, said her case raised issues about the treatment of older workers as they approach or pass what was regarded as retirement age.

"Staff who are able and willing to work beyond previously accepted retirement ages must have their wishes fairly considered and, when decisions are being made regarding their contracts, performance standards, and continued employment, they are entitled to the same consideration as workers of other ages," she said.

"Everyone has the right to fair treatment in the job market and in the workplace on the basis of individual merits, experience and potential."

In settling the case, Dunnes Stores (Bangor) Ltd. has agreed to liaise with the Equality Commission over policies, practices, training and procedures on equality of opportunity and, in particular, on age discrimination.