Irene Mullinger, 81, is now claiming unfair dismissal and age related discrimination
An 81-year-old checkout worker is suing DIY giant B&Q for unfair dismissal, claiming she was sacked for being too old. Dedicated Irene Mullenger had worked at B&Q for almost 25 years and had planned to continue in the role that she loved, saying that she is not ready to sit at home and 'vegetate'. But the widow was left devastated after bosses at the company, which made £161m profit last year, forced her to leave after unfairly changing her shift pattern, she claims. She is now claiming unfair dismissal and age related discrimination - making her one of the oldest employees in Britain ever to do so.
Irene claims bosses at the store in Bletchley, Buckinghamshire, changed her shift patterns to hours and days she would not be able to work. She was originally contracted to work 12 hours a week and for the past ten years had worked mornings only on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Friday. But she claims she was asked to work every other weekend, perform early and late shifts and be available for work five days out of seven on a four week rota basis. Irene claims this was indirect age discrimination because she is being asked to work hours most people her age would not usually be able to work. She is also exempt from working Sundays as a 'protected shop worker' but the new shifts put to her stated she would have to work a minimum of every other weekend.
Irene Mullenger had worked at B&Q for almost a quarter of a century and had planned to carry on for many more years in the job she loved
Because she has been employed by the same employer continuously since before 26 August 1994 she is a protected shop worker - which means she can opt out of working Sundays. She alleges she was told that if she did not agree to the new terms of her working shifts she would be sacked. After failed negotiations with management, Irene was dismissed in August. She contacted legal firm Regents Solicitors who issued the claim on October 30 giving B&Q 28 days to respond - they are yet to do so. The claim form reads: ‘It was put to her that if she was not prepared to agree to these changes the Respondent would move to terminate her employment’.
Irene, of Great Brickhill, Buckinghamshire, said she was devastated at no longer having the job she believes has helped keep her going. She said: 'I loved working there and I miss it badly. I’m worried I’ll vegetate if I sit at home doing nothing. It’s strange not working. I’ve worked all my life, for 64 years, and spent more than 30 years with the civil service before I joined B&Q. I wasn’t ready to be retired. I’m still fit and healthy and I had planned to carry on working for as long as I could. I always said I’d stop when I got too tired to carry on. But the fact is that I’m not tired yet.'
Bosses at the company, which made £161m profit last year, forced her to leave after unfairly changing her shift pattern, she claims
Lawyer Daniel Valentine, from Manchester, said: 'I think what the company did to Mrs Mulligan was absolutely awful. She gave her all to B&Q for almost 25 years and she did not deserve to be treated in such a way. They are asking her to work hours people her age are usually unable to work. She feels they have unfairly changed her shift patterns and discriminating against her because of her age. The way she has been treated is utterly shocking.' A spokesman for B&Q said: 'B&Q is proud of its track record on employing older people, almost 30 per cent of our 33,000 employees are over 50 years old and our oldest employee is 89 years old. We would never comment on an individual case and as this is an ongoing legal process it is not appropriate to comment further.'
Source: Daily Mail UK