Employment Law: Miriam O’Reilly Wins Age Discrimination Case Against the BBC

Miriam O’Reilly has won her age discrimination case against the BBC after she was dropped as presenter of BBC One’s Countryfile.

Online PR News – 12-January-2011 – – Miriam O’Reilly has won her age discrimination case against the BBC after she was dropped as presenter of BBC One’s Countryfile.

53-year-old O’Reilly took the Corporation to an employment tribunal over claims that her age was the reason for her dismissal from the rural affairs show, which also let go of three other female presenters in their 40s and 50s.

Ms O’Reilly claimed she was axed from the show in April 2009 because she was “a woman of a certain age”, and furthermore, she claims she was “hounded out” of her other work commitments due to the negative publicity her departure from Countryfile had attracted.

The tribunal heard that a Countryfile producer had said to Ms O’Reilly: “You’re going to have to be careful about those wrinkles when High Definition comes in.” It was also claimed that a Countryfile cameraman had offered Ms O’Reilly a can of black hair dye whilst filming on location in June 2008.

Countryfile bosses insisted that the dismissal of four female presenters, one of them being Ms O’Reilly, was because the show needed a “refreshed” look as it was being moved to a prime-time slot on BBC One.

The tribunal upheld Ms O’Reilly’s claims of age discrimination and victimisation, although her claim for sex discrimination was dismissed. She is now set to receive a six-figure sum in damages from the BBC.

The BBC has apologised to Ms O’Reilly, who had worked for the Corporation for 25 years, in a statement, saying: “We accept the findings of the tribunal and would like to apologise to Miriam. We will be speaking to her.”

The statement also said that the BBC was “committed to fair selection in every aspect of our work”, and that their senior editorial executives would be receiving additional training on appointing TV presenters, as well as producing new guidelines on fair selection.

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