‘Old buffer’ accountant wins dismissal case

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A MIDDLE-AGED accountant who claimed he was forced to dress up as the office Father Christmas and branded an “old buffer” in an ageism row is in line for a pay out after winning an unfair dismissal claim.

Accounts manager James McClellan, 53, claimed he was sidelined and forced out of his £72,000-a-year job in the payroll department at publishers Dow Jones.

The father-of-three from Kent, claims he was painted as a “misogynist” and told by his manager Azmina Airi that he underestimated “the girls”.

He told Central London Employment Tribunal Ms Airi had branded him “rigid and stuck in my ways” at their first meeting after she was appointed in October 2013.

He said he was “flummoxed” at the “offensive” comments and felt he had been type-cast as a sexist middle-aged man. As a result he resigned in February last year.

Yesterday the employment tribunal panel found that Mr McClellan had been constructively and unfairly dismissed.

But they said that while he may have been “hurt” by being approached to be Santa, they did not find him to be the victim of sexist or ageist discrimination.

However they found that Mr McClellan had been the victim of constructive dismissal and that this amounted to unfair dismissal. The judge said Ms Airi “had swiftly reached a preconceived view that he was resistant to change” and “managed the situation badly”.

And she breached employment guidelines by giving Mr McClellan a verbal warning without going through a formal disciplinary procedure..

The judge also criticised the “astonishing lack of a disciplinary process” at Dow Jones.

Dow Jones and Mr McClellan reached a financial settlement in private.