Winkworth employee wins employment tribunal on age discrimination grounds

A woman who was told she might be “better suited to a traditional estate agency” was discriminated against because of her age, a tribunal has ruled.

Carolina Gomes worked as branch administrator for a Winkworth franchise.

She claimed constructive dismissal against Henworth, trading as Winkworth, and director Graham Gold.

The discrimination allegations were denied in evidence given by Gold, human resources adviser Fiona Mendel and lettings director Sean Doherty, where the focus was on Gomes’s work performance.

Gomes, born in 1956, had earlier worked for Bron and Morley, an estate agent trading as Winkworth in Hendon, north London, before transferring to Henworth, where she worked in its Hendon branch.

In February 2016, Doherty met with Gomes and told her she needed to take more care with her paperwork. Notes were taken of the meeting by Gold but not shown to Gomes.

This was following by another meeting, this time between Gomes and Gold the following month.

Saying “This marriage isn’t working”, Gold produced a letter typed to a solicitor, containing errors. He said a note would be placed on her performance record.

He added that she would be “better suited to a traditional estate agency”. Gomes took this to mean that he considered her too old to work at a modern Winkworth office and asked him what he meant.

He replied saying: “Sleep on it and decide what you want to do.”

A grievance procedure followed but Gomes resigned. A brief appeal meeting was held by telephone conference, with the appeal dismissed.

The tribunal described the appeal meeting as “perfunctory”.

It concluded that the comment “better suited to a traditional estate agency” would not have been made to a younger person, and therefore that the claimant had been discriminated because of age.

The case was decided in June, at Watford, and published on August 31. The results of a settlement hearing are unknown.

It has now featured in the HR magazine People Management, which quotes Laurie Anstis, senior associate solicitor at Boyes Turner: “This is a reminder to employers of the risks of using words that could be taken to be a reference to someone’s age.

“An age discrimination [claim] can be brought where the comments allude to an employee’s age, even if they do not directly refer to it.”

A spokesperson at head office told EYE that each Winkworth office is individually owned, operating its own HR and staff appraisal processes.


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  1. J1

    The trouble is agency is seen as a youngsters game by many CEO’s

    Too many excellent experienced valuers and managers are passed over.

    Just because I am in my fifties and don’t where a short skirt anymore doesn’t mean I don’t add value!!!!!

    Just because I have an opinion that is different to yours doesn’t mean I am wrong!!!!!!! Myself and a colleague were told at 55 we were too old ever to be considered for board positions.!!!

    Age discrimination is rife in agrncy – stand up for yourselves people!!!!

    Us oldies should rebel!!!!!


    1. smile please


      I agree there are many experienced agents that are good.

      But likewise there are many that are not up to it.

      Problem with agency it can burn you out, also every agency likes to do things a set way but sales people being sales people the majority look for the easiest route, with experience comes lazy and a lot of assumption making (this could be staff in their late 20’s).

      Its attitude i recruit on, be it 18 or 61 (our youngest and eldest member of staff).

      Its inevitable as people get older priorities change, sometimes its harder for experienced individuals to stay hungry and do what they are supposed to.

      This is why you see a lot of mid 30 – early 40 agents opening up on their own or leaving the industry.


      However in the above story, it was a poorly handled situation, although i do have some sympathy for the owner. Hopefully he will have learnt from his mistakes.

      1. J1

        Agreed that it does burn you out, but the stuffy old boys brigade still endures

        what is needed is a rebalancing of attitudes to age and sex discrimination in agency

    2. Bless You

      tbf if i was a winkworth franchisee i would want refund off winkworths hq for not advising on how to get rid of a bitter employee..they must have learnt a bit over the years…what are you paying your % for?

      I don’t understand?? So if a bad employee, who takes a job as admin but cant work spellchecker,, then just makes up a statement like: ‘you said i was old and stupid’ … you will win a tribunal??

      Although these weird cases always seem to go the way of the sacked employee it does nothing for the staff , who have to live with the new systems put in place and the mistrust it breeds between employers and employees having to watch their backs…


      where would we be if everytime a footballer got subbed, he put in for ‘you hurt my feelings ‘ tribunal.

  2. Chris Wood

    A good manager will employ to fill the strengths they need. The benefits of older people is they often have far greater empathy with a wider number of situations and are thus often able to provide far better service and, more bankable business. After all selling is merely providing an affordable solution to a problem. If you have the skills to listen and understand a problem, you are far more likely to make a sale at a better price with a happier customer.

  3. Typhoon

    A world gone mad!

  4. khaj85

    I note Winkworth HQ response. It broadcasts that it is a national network/powerful team etc. But as soon as there’s trouble it seems the Franchisees are on their own. Same thing with the ‘From Russia with Cash’ channel 4 revelation. As someone else commented – what are you paying for?


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