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Man (61) targeted in office cull of bald men despite full head of hair wins €80k award

‘I don't want a team of bald-headed 50-year-old men - I want to change the dynamics’

Stock picture© Getty Images/Image Source

William MataUK Independent

A 61-year-old sales director who was pressured to leave his job because his boss didn’t want “a team of bald-headed 50-year-old men,” has won £71,000 (€80,000) in discrimination related damages.

Mark Jones was victorious in a tribunal after Leeds-based Tango Network, the mobile phone firm he worked for, “chipped away” to encourage him to leave his £60,000-a-year role.

The Leeds court heard manager Philip Hesketh, himself a bald middle-aged man, had complained about workplace diversity saying he didn’t want “mirror images” of himself.

“I don't want a team of bald-headed 50-year-old men - I want to change the dynamics,” he said. Instead, the boss wanted “energetic” and “youthful” candidates for jobs.

While blessed with a full-head of hair, Mr Jones felt under fire.

He would have gained employment rights if he had been at Tango for two years but having been there for one year he felt the knives were out to remove him while it was easier to get rid of him.

Tango - which has its UK headquarters in Leeds - said of its enterprise “we transform the mobile phone into a controlled endpoint for remote workers, office-based employees and those working outside the office”.

In the tribunal it was said the firm “chipped away” at Mr Jones, putting him on a “'sham” performance improvement plan by way of finding an excuse for him to depart.

Mr Jones later resigned and started legal action.

“Mr Hesketh perceived Mr Jones as un-dynamic and he associated more dynamic people with the characteristics of younger people,” the tribunal concluded this week.

It was also revealed that during an interview process a 57-year-old candidate Mr Jones had put forward was rejected in favour of two younger workers - both in their forties. Mr Hesketh, who had been part of the process, said the lack of diversity in the interview had been a “shame”.

On December 18, 2020, Mr Hesketh told a superior he would hire both candidates on provision they could “move Mark [Jones] on,” before he completed two years’ service.

Mr Jones suffered a panic attack the following week and then was signed off with stress but continued a grievance procedure against the company before leaving in March.

His resignation letter said: “I am saddened at the blatant manipulation and lies set out in the grievance report and believe this is only designed as a tick box exercise to make me look bad and to further a performance management process which should never have been carried out in the first place.”

Judge Ian Miller said: “We have found that Tango has demonstrated no basis for deciding to dismiss Mr Jones and then subsequently implementing the capability process.

“In our view, Tango was caught off guard by Mr Jones being off sick and did not have time to dismiss him before he accrued two years service.”

He added: “They chipped away at the relationship from Mr Jones' perspective and in the entirety of the circumstances it was reasonable for him to feel [that they seriously damaged the relationship of trust].”

Tango Networks has been contacted for comment.

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