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Man wins £35,000 payout after being called an ‘old fossil’ by his boss

The headquarters of Vesuvius where Glenn Cowie worked (Picture: Google)

A top executive at a FTSE 250 firm has won £35,000 in an age discrimination case.

Glenn Cowie had worked for the international engineering company Vesuvius for almost 40 years when he was sacked and replaced with a younger employee.

The 58-year-old was dismissed 18-months after the CEO Patrick Andre called him an ‘old fossil’ during a meeting with other executives in Brazil.

It followed the implementation of a new policy encouraged managers not to hire anyone over the age of 45.

An employment tribunal heard ‘Mr Andre said “These new millennials will never stop pushing until they have my job and you older guys have to get used to it”.’

He also told Mr Cowie he was ‘an old fossil who doesn’t know how to manage millennials’.

The victim remembered the comment very well as ‘it was so out of the blue and inappropriate’.

Mr Cowie accused Vesuvius of having an ‘institutional and deep prejudice against older employees’.

In February last year, he won claims of age discrimination, victimisation and unfair dismissal.

He has now been awarded £34,407, and will be given further compensation at a later date.

At the latest tribunal hearing, Mr Cowie said: ‘It is hard to describe fully the mental anguish that I suffered as a result of the company’s treatment.

‘It was severe and lasting. I had devoted 37 years of my life to the company.

‘I lost confidence. I felt very low. In late 2019 I suffered deeply depressive and anxious periods that I had never had before.’

The tribunal was previously told Mr Cowie started working for Vesuvius – which makes products for the car industry, steelmakers and foundries – while living in South Africa in 1981.

In 2014, he was promoted to Global Business Unit President of Foundry Industries, also known as Foseco International, one of the four divisions of the company.

Four years later, Mr Andre indicated to the company’s board that Mr Cowie was not performing well enough and that he had six months to improve.

But at no point was this communicated to Mr Cowie himself, the tribunal heard.

An executive search agency was employed to find a potential replacement for him.

The tribunal heard Mr Andre decided to sack Mr Cowie in February 2019, but he did not discuss this decision with him until August 1, 2019, when he told Mr Cowie ‘it’s not working’ and his employment would be terminated.

After his dismissal, Mr Cowie filed a grievance complaining of age discrimination.

The tribunal awarded him an initial payment including £20,000 for injury to feelings.

A second compensation hearing to determine his loss of income award will be held at a later date.

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