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Does asking an employee if they Alzheimer's amount to age discrimination?

The Claimant was aged around 57 years old at the relevant times, and brought several claims based on age discrimination and harassment. These were based on allegations that:

  1. She was required to undertake a second period of probation when she moved from the job of Administrator with the Company to that of Search Consultant.

  2. Her manager made comments (several times a week, if not daily) such as “Is it the Alzheimers again Mary?”, “Oh dear, Alzheimers back again Mary?” and “Having a senior moment again Mary?”.

She alleged that this conduct related to her age and had the purpose or effect of violating her dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for her. In addition, because of her age she had been treated less favourably than they treated or would treat a younger person, naming a number of comparators younger than her.

The tribunal found the Alzheimer’s remarks were an act of direct discrimination because they would not have been made to someone in a similar role who was materially younger than her. The Judge added that, while the manager who made the comments “almost certainly saw her remarks as no more than office banter”, they still had the effect of violating her dignity.

She was awarded £900 in compensation, together with interest.



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