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Accounts manager ‘made to dress as Santa’ wins unfair dismissal case

An accounts manager who claimed he was forced to dress up as Father Christmas by work colleagues has won his case for unfair dismissal.

Fifty-three-year-old Dow Jones account manager James McClellan was described as an “old buffer” during his time in the payroll job at the Rupert Murdoch-owned company.

Mr McClellan, from Maidstone, told an employment tribunal that he was sidelined and also painted as a misogynist in his £72,000 a year job.

The BBC reports that the panel found Mr McClellan had been constructively and unfairly dismissed but Dow Jones denied the allegation.

However, the panel did not find him to be the victim of sexist or ageist discrimination – despite being approached to be Santa Claus during Christmas 2013.

It was revealed during the tribunal that Mr McClellan said he was made to feel he was being singled out by his manager Azmina Airi.

Mr McClellan said Ms Airi had branded him “rigid and stuck in my ways” at their first meeting after she was appointed in October 2013.

The judge, Tamara Lewis, said being considered rigid and stuck in your ways was a stereotype that could be said of younger people as well as older ones.

“Regarding the secret Santa, we don’t think it was an instruction, we think it was a request,” she said.

“He resigned because of Ms Airi’s view of him and also she undermined his position with his team, and because she gave him a verbal warning.

“The way she did that, we find, was a breach of trust.”

Ms Airi breached employment guidelines by giving Mr McClellan a verbal warning without going through a formal disciplinary procedure.

The panel concluded that Mr McClellan had been the victim of constructive dismissal and that this amounted to unfair dismissal.

Dow Jones and Mr McClellan reached a financial settlement in private and declined to say what this amounted to.

Neither party declined to comment on the judgment.

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