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Plumber Awarded £25,000 After Bosses Called Him 'Half-Dead Dave'

Plumber Awarded £25,000 After Bosses Called Him 'Half-Dead Dave'

A tribunal ruled that David Robson had been both discriminated against due to his age and unfairly sacked

A plumber has been awarded £25,000 after colleagues and bosses started using a nickname that was a ‘derogatory reference to his age’, despite claims it was merely ‘banter’. 

David Robson was left feeling ‘saddened and embarrassed’ by the nickname, having been dubbed ‘Half-dead Dave’.  

Robson, who was 69 at the time, had been working at Clarke’s Mechanical Ltd as a ‘plumber/pipefitter’ for eight years, but was dismissed when the company selected him for redundancy following a points-scoring system – in which he’d been rated lower than other staff. 

A tribunal heard how the system was unfair, and that there was ‘no justification’ for the low scores Robson received. 

It also said his ‘Half-dead’ nickname was used by colleagues and bosses, and proved that his status as the company’s oldest employee had influenced the decision to sack him. 

Having first qualified as a plumber 55 years ago, Robson was the ‘oldest skilled worker’ out of ‘some 17 gas engineers/plumbers’ at the firm in Cowes, Isle of Wight

However, in January 2020, he was told he would be made redundant due to a ‘downturn in workload’, and was offered £6,300 in redundancy pay. 

Facebook/Clarke's Mechanical Ltd

Robson appealed the decision, asking the company to explain the selection process – also asking whether or not his age had been a factor in the redundancy, claiming the scoring system later sent to him had been ‘fabricated’. 

Bosses argued that Robson’s nickname was used years before he was let go, claiming they more often used the name ‘Disco Dave’ instead. 

However, the tribunal ruled that Robson, now 71, had been both discriminated against due to his age and unfairly sacked. 

He was awarded £25,000 in compensation - £7,000 of which was awarded just for the 'name-calling'. 

The tribunal heard how one incident in 2015 had seen Robson’s supervisor Lee Pitman using the nickname when telling another worker, Tom Fox, to take equipment to him. 

Pitman recalled: “I think I [gave] Tom something to give to him and I said, 'Give that to Dave'. 

“I think Tom hadn't worked with Dave and he said 'Who's Dave?', and I said ‘Half-dead Dave’ because that is what I thought they all called him on site.” 

Fox then handed Robson the plumbing fittings, saying: “Here you are, Half-dead.” 

Stock image.

Robson told the tribunal: “It was saddening. To me, the most saddening thing was that the term originated from a member of the management. It came from him [Mr Pitman]. 

“I also had a nickname of Disco Dave but he didn't use that. When we [came] to the end of all this and my daughter sat me down and said, 'can we go through everything', she was upset... You would be. 

“To the end of my employment I was regularly referred to as Half-dead Dave. Lee Pitman called me that - he thought it was rather amusing. 

“Half-dead, what, because I am old? It wasn't easy to sit and explain to my family. 

“I didn't ask colleagues [to stop using the name]. I just thought, 'Only a few years left at work, let's just put up with it'. I didn't want the distress of it all.” 

Employment Judge Martha Felicity Street ruled Robson had been discriminated against because of his age, saying the matter was 'plain and simple'. 

Stock image.

Street said: “[The nickname] caused detriment. Mr Robson put up with it, but he did not like it, he was uncomfortable and saddened and embarrassed. 

“In respect of the name-calling, Half-Dead Dave, the majority of the Tribunal award a further £7,000. 

“That reflects the long-standing use of the name and its frankly derogatory reference to his age. 

“Mr Robson did not talk up his distress, but it was plain that he was distressed and embarrassed, distressed too when he was compelled to tell his family; it became the more painful on becoming known. 

“It affected his confidence, it made him the more anxious for his job, in an environment where that conduct went without comment. He felt dealt with unfairly and felt unable to address it. 

“This was discrimination on the grounds of age, plain and simple. Discrimination of any form is not just banter. That is accepted across society at large.” 

LADbible has reached out to Clarke’s Mechanical Ltd for comment. 

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: UK News