Page last updated at 23:47 GMT, Sunday, 2 August 2009 00:47 UK

Cash for woman sacked for her age

Ruth McNeil
Ruth McNeil said she was very upset when she was sacked

An Edinburgh medical receptionist has settled her age discrimination claim against a doctor's surgery for £6,000.

Ruth McNeil, 66, was asked to leave her part-time post in the capital when her employers discovered she was over 65.

The practice, which cannot be named as part of the out of court settlement, sacked her just a week into the job.

The grandmother-of-two, who left a permanent job for the new role, said she was in a "terrible state" when she was told in October 2008.

Speaking to the BBC Scotland news website, Ms McNeil said: "I was doing the training and they took me aside and told me I was too old for the job, i just could not believe it.

"I was in a terrible state as it was going through my mind how I was going to pay my bills, as the state pension is not enough to live on in these modern times.

I feel I got the job fairly and what they have done is just so unfair, my friends just can't believe it
Ruth McNeil

"I had given up a secure job with Marks and Spencers, which lets you work for as long as you are capable to do the job, because this job was nearer my home, it even paid about the same.

"I did the interview and got the job over other people but they never asked me my age at the time.

"I feel I got the job fairly and what they have done is just so unfair, my friends just can't believe it."

Ms McNeil has been trying to get another job but she said it was hard in the current economic climate and she said Marks and Spencer was not hiring, so she was unable to get her previous job back.

She was supported by the Equality and Human Rights Commission Scotland and the three day case was due to be held but the practice settled out of court beforehand.

Muriel Robison, Equality and Human Rights Commission Scotland's head of legal enforcement, said: "Sadly, despite legislation aimed at tackling age discrimination, people can still be treated unfairly at work because of their age.

"Ruth McNeil may be over 65 but has many skills of great value to employers. The EHRC believe that people with skills and ability who are able to work and who want to work should be allowed to do so.

"We hope that by supporting this case we are able to highlight to prospective employers that through the appointment process and in the workplace itself people should be treated fairly regardless of their age."

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