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Golf expert unfairly dismissed but not discriminated against, says Judge

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A golf expert responsible for securing sponsorship deals was unfairly dismissed by the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) for refusing to take an 80 per cent paycut, but was not discriminated against, a Judge has ruled.

Scott Kelly, aged 61, was told to retire or take a reduced salary by bosses in October 2015.

PGA chief executive Keith Pelley denied claims that the firm broke anti-discrimination laws or acted in breach of his contract.

He further claimed that Mr Kelly was sacked due to an “incapability” to do his job. He claimed that he was concerned about a £1.9 million shortfall in Mr Kelly’s department and lack of sponsorship from certain types of businesses.

“Concocted” fabrications

Mr Kelly’s representative said the chief’s claims were “concocted” fabrications after the legal proceedings were started.

The claimant’s team produced evidence in the form of emails and meeting transcripts where Mr Pelley said he wanted to employ “millennials” and that another senior director kept his job “with the support of two 31-year-olds – offering fresh legs”.

However, Judge Andrew Gumbiti-Zimuto ruled that Mr Kelly was not discriminated against; suggesting that the evidence submitted was taken out of context in relation to the case.

“The fact that the respondent’s [Mr Pelley] conduct was unfair does not support a view that there was discrimination,” he said.

“The failure to follow a reasonable procedure is not necessarily indicative of discrimination. It may indicate a closed mind but it does not assist in concluding why the decision to dismiss was taken.”

“The use of words like energised or vibrant, in our view, can also be used in reference to older people as well as younger people,” the Judge added.

A remedy hearing at an employment tribunal in Reading will be held on 06 February 2017.