A schoolgirl is thought to have made history as the youngest person in the UK to win a discrimination claim after she was sacked for being too young.
Hazel Cassidy, now 15, worked for two Saturday shifts in a café before she was dismissed from her first job.
She told an employment tribunal in Glasgow that she was left feeling “distressed” and has been awarded nearly £3,000 in damages after a ruling that she was the victim of “direct discrimination”.
In 2019 Hazel worked a trial shift at an Equestrian Centre, owned by the Daimler Foundation in Ayrshire, after applying for the role with forms that included her date of birth. At the end of her shift waiting on tables and working at the till, Malcolm Easy, the manager, told Hazel that he was “pleased” with her. However, she was sent home early from her second shift and Easy later called to say that he “enjoyed working with her” but that she was being sacked for “health and safety reasons” because the company’s accountant said she was too young.
The company later claimed that she was sacked because the “role was too demanding”, but the panel ruled it had not proved that age was not a factor in Hazel’s dismissal and awarded her £2,800.
Sandy Kemp, an employment judge, said “it was far more likely that Mr Easy had said something to the effect that Miss Cassidy was too young for the role, and that the accountant had said that it was for health and safety reasons”. He praised Cassidy for giving evidence “clearly, candidly, and calmly”.
The teenager told the tribunal she was “shocked, upset and distressed” at being sacked as she had been enjoying the work.
Protections against age discrimination are included in the Employment Equality Regulations of 2006 and the Equality Act 2010. An employer can be found to have committed “direct” age discrimination if it treats someone less favourably because of that protected characteristic.
In 2019 Brooke Shanks, an interior design graduate from Edinburgh University, was also awarded £3,000 after she was demoted from running a kitchen showroom because she was “only 21”. In 2008 an employment tribunal backed Leanne Wilkinson, who claimed to have been sacked from her job at an engineering company in Newcastle for being too young. She was 18 at the time.