Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 3 September 2014

£25k for woman sacked after age bias case victory

A preacher who sacked a woman from his dry cleaning business after she took an age discrimination case against him has been ordered to pay her nearly £25,000.

Anna Stirrup was fired from her job at Summers Dry Cleaners in Cookstown last year - just three weeks after her boss was ordered to pay out nearly £6,000 for making hurtful remarks about her age.

Mrs Stirrup (52) again sought legal recourse and has won a second case against her former employer.

Ufuoma Obahor, who is also a pastor at the Elim Pentecostal Church in Cookstown, was ordered to pay her £24,147 in total.

Speaking after the ruling, Mrs Stirrup said the experience had been very distressing.

"I have worked since I was 17 and this was the first time I had ever been even suspended," she said. "I found the entire experience very distressing.

"I am really thankful it's at an end and in these two decisions the tribunal have accepted the truthfulness of my evidence and recognised that I have always been a hard-working and conscientious employee."

When contacted by the Belfast Telegraph yesterday, Mr Obahor said he rejected the tribunal's findings and was intending to launch an appeal.

"This is pending an appeal ... there was no victimisation in any way," he said. "I'm also taking the tribunal for racism and for discrimination.

"I have contacted Peter Robinson, I have contacted Martin McGuinness - a lot of people on this."

The panel was told Mrs Stirrup had been working for Mr Obahor for three years when she brought a complaint of age discrimination to an industrial tribunal in April 2010.

It found that Mr Obahor had harassed her by making hurtful and unwanted remarks about her age and awarded her £5,867.

Mrs Stirrup was dismissed by Mr Obahor several weeks later, on June 4, 2010.

She appealed her dismissal, but this was rejected by Mr Obahor, and made a complaint to a second industrial tribunal.

The panel was told Mr Obahor could be "quite offhand and nasty" and that she was "reduced to tears in the shop from time to time".

A claim from Mr Obahor that he had dismissed Mrs Stirrup for gross misconduct was rejected by the tribunal, which held that "the allegations were ill-founded". It ruled the reasons for dismissing her were "flimsy, to say the least".

Factfile

The tribunal awarded Anna Stirrup the following in compensation:

* Unfair dismissal: £13,153

* Injury to feelings for victimisation: £10,000

* Interest on victimisation award: £928

* Unlawful deduction of wages: £65

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