Former bakery sales manager receives £75,000 in compensation for age discrimination

Seamus Gillespie (60) was made redundant by Northern Ireland’s WD Irwin and Sons in 2022 after more than 30 years’ service

A sales manager at a well-known Northern Ireland bakery has received £75,000 (€87,690) after his former employer settled an age discrimination case.

Seamus Gillespie (60) worked for WD Irwin and Sons bakery from 1991 until he was made redundant in August 2022.

The company settled the age discrimination case without admission of liability. The case was supported by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.

Mr Gillespie alleged he was told in early 2021 that the company was looking for young workers from a “blue-chip background” in the context of recruitment for new staff.


He also alleged that he was informed he would lose some accounts when a vacant post of business unit controller was to be filled. He believed this resulted in him losing a significant proportion of his work.

Mr Gillespie was advised in September 2022 that his post was at risk of redundancy. He was placed in a redundancy pool of one.

Is the restriction on passenger numbers at Dublin Airport doing untold damage to our economy?

Listen | 39:09

During subsequent redundancy meetings, he claims comments were made regarding the need to get some new blood.

Speaking following the settlement, Mr Gillespie said he worked at Irwins for more than 30 years, enjoyed his job and was a loyal employee.

“But it was very clear to me, following discussions with management, that my career with the company was over. I firmly believed the decision to make me redundant was based solely on my age,” he said.

“I had no choice but to challenge how I was treated. I’m glad my case is now settled, although I would rather that none of this had happened in the first place.”

Geraldine McGahey, Chief Commissioner with the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, said, said it is “is imperative that employers have robust policies and practices in place to prevent any potential instances of age discrimination, and that staff are adequately trained to use them”.

In setting the case, WD Irwin and Sons Ltd denied any liability and reaffirmed its strong commitment to the principle of equality of opportunity in employment and to ensuring that they comply in all respects with their obligations under equality law.

They agreed to liaise with the Equality Commission to review policies, practices and procedures and their application to ensure that they are effective and conform with the requirements of the Employment Equality Age Regulations (NI) 2006. The case was settled without admission of liability.

  • Sign up for push alerts and have the best news, analysis and comment delivered directly to your phone
  • Find The Irish Times on WhatsApp and stay up to date
  • Our In The News podcast is now published daily – Find the latest episode here
Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is a reporter for The Irish Times