An experienced shop manager has won more than £17,000 after her boss called her an ‘old woman’.
Janet Witt got into an argument with Sam Cooper after discovering she was being paid less than the man who ran the tea shop next door.
The 72-year-old – who had been in charge of the shop at New Quay farm near Cardigan bay in West Wales for almost two decades – accused Mr Cooper of treating her unfairly.
An employment tribunal heard the 45-year-old responded angrily, calling her an ‘old woman’ as she was ‘set in her ways’.
Mother-of-three Mrs Witt successfully sued Mr Cooper for age discrimination, victimisation and unfair dismissal and won a substantial payout.
The hearing in Cardiff was told the former teacher had worked at the shop since 2002 and had been friends with Mr Cooper’s parents.
Honey from the farm in Ceredigion is stocked in Waitrose and independent food retailers.
But after Mr Cooper took over in 2015, the tribunal heard Mrs Witt became frustrated with his management style and his alleged failure to inform her about changes he wanted to make.
Mrs Witt discovered that the manager of the adjoining Tea Room was being paid £1 an hour more than she was and confronted Mr Cooper in August 2019, saying her wage was “unfair”.
The panel found that in response Mr Cooper lost his temper, angrily shouting that she was behaving ‘like a child’, telling her ‘how dare you’ and ‘shame on you’.
Mrs Witt then walked off to her car, while Mr Cooper followed, shouting and swearing at her before giving her a V sign as she drove off.
The tribunal heard Mrs Witt returned to work the following week but Mr Cooper believed she had resigned and had offered her job to someone else.
Mrs Witt said when she tried to talk to Mr Cooper he ‘shouted over her’ that she had accused him of discrimination.
The tribunal heard: “Amongst the matters (she) said that she was described as ‘old woman’.
“We accept that (he) did say this as his view was that (she) was a person resistant to change and set in her ways.”
The panel, chaired by Employment Judge Philip Davies, found that it was likely she called Mr Cooper a ‘fool’ in response.
An allegation Mrs Witt denies.
The tribunal ruled that being called ‘old woman’ amounts to age discrimination.
Mrs Witt – whose additional claim regarding equal pay was dismissed – was awarded £16,943 in compensation, including £6,000 for injury to feelings.