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

The Vesuvius headquarters where Glenn Cowie worked (Image: Google)

The Vesuvius headquarters where Glenn Cowie worked (Image: Google)

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

Glenn Cowie had worked for international engineering firm Vesuvius for almost 40 years when he was fired and replaced by a younger employee.

The 58-year-old was fired 18 months after CEO Patrick Andre called him an “old fossil” at a meeting with other executives in Brazil.

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

A labor court heard: “Mr Andre said: ‘These new millennials will never stop pushing until they get my job and you older people will have to get used to it.’

He also told Mr Cowie he was “an old fossil who doesn’t know how to deal with 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 workers”.

In February last year, he won lawsuits alleging age discrimination, victimization and wrongful dismissal.

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

At the final court hearing, Mr Cowie said: “It is difficult to fully describe the mental anguish I have endured as a result of treatment by the company.

“It was severe and persistent. I had dedicated 37 years of my life to the company.

“I’ve lost confidence. I felt very down. At the end of 2019 I was suffering from deep depression and anxiety that I have never had before.”

The tribunal was previously told that Mr Cowie began working for Vesuvius – which makes products for the automotive 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 company’s four business units.

Four years later, Mr. Andre told 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 hired to find a possible replacement for him.

The court heard that Mr Andre decided to fire Mr Cowie in February 2019, but did not discuss that decision with him until August 1, 2019, when he told Mr Cowie “it’s not working” and his employment would be terminated.

After his release, Mr Cowie filed an age discrimination complaint.

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

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

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Justin Scacco

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