Ageism cases could rise if employers are not 'hotter' on performance management, EEF HR director

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The removal of the default retirement age (DRA) is a positive move but means companies must be "hotter" on performance management or risk leaving themselves open to potential ageism cases, such as the one being brought by John McCririck against Channel 4, according to HR director and executive director of manufacturing organisation EEF, Caroline Gumble.

Gumble, was speaking to HR magazine after the news that Channel 4 horse racing pundit, John McCririck, has started legal proceedings as he seeks £3 million in damages for alleged age discrimination after the broadcaster decided to axe him last year.

According to 72 year-old, McCririck, he was sacked from Channel 4 Racing in October 2012 "without any consultation or cogent explanation".

McCririck is suing Channel 4 and IMG Sports Media, which took over production of the broadcaster's racing coverage from the start of 2013, for £2.5 million in punitive damages and is looking for a further £500,000 in compensation for loss of future earnings, unfair career damaging, public humiliation, stress and mental anguish.

In a statement to the press association, McCririck said: "Channel 4 and production company IMG Sports Media were yesterday each served a letter before action for age discrimination.

"Ageism is illegal. For tens of thousands of employees, it has become the feared scourge of our society. This litigation should prove to be a watershed. There's no upper limit to the amount of damages employment tribunals can award under the Equality Act 2010," he said.

Gumble told HR magazine: "If a person has got the energy, skills and knowledge to do a job then age is completely irrelevant. So in terms of this I can see where he might have a case.

"If you are looking to remove someone from your organisation then it has to start with a conversation and must be fair and objective.

"Companies must tackle performance issues properly and be a lot hotter on their performance management, else cases of ageism, such as this, will be more common."

McCririck said he was being represented on a no-win, no-fee basis by employment and sports law specialist solicitor Stephen Beverley, of the London West End Cavendish Legal Group.

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