A Premier Inn supervisor has been awarded £64,000 after winning a claim for unfair dismissal. An employment tribunal found that a concerted effort to dismiss a member of staff was due to a “culture of age discrimination”.
The Premier Inn Hampstead had employed 69 year-old Marissa Terraneo for more than 10 years before dismissing her in January 2015.
Ms Terraneo was initially dismissed for smoking in what the hotel claimed was a non-designated area. However, the tribunal heard that the smoking area was outside and was used by other staff — and that they had not been disciplined.
The company’s claim that the area was only for the use of guests was clearly untrue.
Although the incident occurred in early October 2015, the hotel management did not hold a disciplinary hearing until 24 December. The tribunal was told that, at the hearing, Ms Terraneo was shouted at, humiliated and then dismissed.
Claims of unfair dismissal, wrongful dismissal, direct age discrimination and harassment were made by the GMB on behalf of Ms Terraneo.
Speaking for the union, Dennis McNulty said that discrimination based on age must not be tolerated by any worker. The consistent bullying and harassment inflicted by Premier Inn management on Marissa Terraneo was totally unacceptable, he added, and had had a hugely detrimental effect on her both emotionally and physically.
Evidence showed that she had been unfairly dismissed and that the accusation of smoking in a restricted area had clearly been intended to enable the company to initiate disciplinary action in an effort to sack her.
Premier Inn said that it will review its training and disciplinary procedures in response to what it described as an isolated case.