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Age is just a number – but it can be an expensive one

Age is just a number – but it can be an expensive one

Abutcher with 50 years’ experience has been awarded more than £120,000 after he was replaced in a village shop by a younger man.

Michael Bandura was ruled to have suffered age discrimination when his boss brought in the younger butcher, after the older man went on temporary sick leave.

An employment tribunal was told that Bandura had worked in the shop for 19 years before having to take time off for a short stay in hospital.

The 67-year-old was paid the equivalent of £4.17 an hour by the shop’s boss, Michael Fernandez, which translated to about £11,000 a year, with Bandura working about 50 hours a week over six days.

Bandura told the tribunal in Croydon, south London, that he was “shocked and distressed” after being “retired” early.

The tribunal awarded him compensation in a ruling that found that the senior butcher had been treated “less favourably than a younger man”.

The village butcher’s shop in the south of England sold meat from a farm owned by Fernandez.

The butcher was the sole person charged with the daily operation of the business. Bandura told the hearing that his duties included purchasing “everything to run the shop”, all butchery and sales, books and audits, which were sent to an accountant.

In 2019 Bandura became unwell and contacted Fernandez to arrange a relief butcher when he was briefly admitted to hospital.

Two days later he telephoned the shop owner to tell him he was fully fit and ready to return to work, but his boss told him he should remain at home to recover.

Bandura took the week off but found Fernandez “evasive” when asked about his eventual return to work.

Fernandez then placed Bandura on statutory sick pay and hired a “much younger” man as a full-time butcher. He sent the older butcher his P45 in the post.

The tribunal noted that Bandura had planned to work until his 70th birthday and that the shop owner had cut short his working life by three years.

Finding in favour of Bandura, Fiona McLaren, a specialist employment judge, said he had been treated less favourably than a younger man and that there had been no “legitimate aim” for forcing him to retire.

The judge noted that Bandura had been a butcher for more than 50 years and that butchery was his sole skill.