McCirrick Fails In Age Discrimination Case
The media has recently reported that television personality and horse racing expert John McCririck has lost his case at the Central London Employment Tribunal for age discrimination. McCririck was claiming against production company IMG Media Limited and Channel 4.
It was the basis of his case that he was removed from Channel 4’s racing coverage due to his age and replaced by “anonymous suits and skirts” as part of a drive to hire younger faces. However in its Judgment the Tribunal panel said “all the evidence is that Mr McCririck’s pantomime persona as demonstrated on the Celebrity Television appearances and his persona when appearing on Channel 4 Racing together with his self-described bigoted and male chauvinist views were clearly unpalatable to a wider potential audience. The Tribunal is satisfied that the Respondent had the legitimate aim of attracting a wider audience to horse racing. Mr McCririck was dismissed because of his persona emanating from his appearances from celebrity television shows and the associated press articles resulting from them together with his appearances as a broadcaster on Channel 4 Racing where as he accepted his style of dress attitudes opinions and tic tac gestures were not in keeping with the new aims and his opinions seen as arrogant and confrontational”.
In terms of the legal basis of Mr McCririck’s case not much has been disclosed. However as a lawyer it is possible to gather certain information from the facts disclosed in the mass media. It would appear to me that Mr McCririck has been dismissed for “some other substantial reason” namely his rather unpalatable personality and self-professed sexist views. It would appear that he has then claimed age discrimination and that this was the real reason for his dismissal. However it would appear that the Respondents have managed to defeat the claim on the basis that they had a legitimate aim (I would suggest attracting a broader audience to racing) and this was the reason for his dismissal rather than directly attributed to his age. Mr McCririck could certainly be seen as somewhat of a dinosaur of broadcasting and it is believed that Channel 4 made specific reference to his famed deer stalker hat gold jewellery and tic tac gestures as being outdated concepts for today’s racing viewer.
Mr McCririck was understandably upset when finding out the decision of the Tribunal. I heard him speaking on the radio in which he described the result of the case as “an historic setback for all employees in their 30’s to 70’s” and a “landmark legal case”.
I am sure these comments stem from his frustration and disappointment in the Judgment however as an employment law solicitor I could not remotely agree with his comments. I can’t help but think that Mr McCririck has made a “booby” of his own by stating this as from an Employment Law perspective the case is far from groundbreaking and I’m fairly sure that no solicitor would call it a “landmark” ruling. What the case should be used as is a reminder that discrimination of any kind is a very hard claim to succeed with and there is a very high evidential burden on the Claimant to prove that the discrimination was the reason for dismissal. It would not be fair from the facts released to state that Mr McCririck never had a chance of winning his case but I would suggest that on the information released to the media at large so far he was always facing an uphill struggle and his own admission (in an interview with Talk Sport) where he stated “I could not have lived with myself if I had not fought these people” perhaps shows that it was more from an egotistical point of view that Mr McCririck took action to appear to try and save face in the public eye rather than holding a legitimate hope that he would be successful with his claims.
It has not yet been confirmed whether Mr McCririck plans on appealing the decision but if he does we shall keep you updated with news.
If you believe you have been the victim of age discrimination by your employer or alternatively are an employer that wishes to fairly remove an employee without the fear of an age discrimination claim please contact Michael Lewin’s specialist Employment Department who will be happy to give you pragmatic advice based on your individual circumstances.