Retail giant denies ageism claim

RETAIL giant Marks and Spencer has been accused of discriminating against older workers and treating sick staff like “criminals” - leaving them feeling too scared to take time off.

RETAIL giant Marks and Spencer has been accused of discriminating against older workers and treating sick staff like “criminals” - leaving them feeling too scared to take time off.

The allegations were made at a Suffolk employment tribunal yesterday hearing claims of age and sexual discrimination brought by Susan Smith, from Bury St Edmunds.

Mrs Smith, 55, an M&S customer services advisor, told the hearing that despite having been off work with shingles last year, she was threatened with dismissal if she took more time off because of illness.

But M&S is strongly denying the discrimination claims, and says its policy for managing sick leave is fair and equally applied to all staff - regardless of age or gender. It also claimed Mrs Smith's sick leave was not linked to any underlying medical condition.

The tribunal heard that M&S strongly denied the allegations being made and was confident that its policy for managing sick leave was fair and equally applied to all staff regardless of age or gender.

The tribunal has been adjourned. Employment Judge Brian Mitchell said a decision would be announced at a later date.