The Telegraph: Amia Ismail, 57, said he was transferred from a Radisson Edwardian hotel in central London, where rooms cost up to £3,500 ($5,622) a night, and replaced with an attractive 28-year-old woman as they wanted a new and younger image.
He claimed that on another occasion he was told to go to the group’s Mayfair hotel, find fault with older staff and pressure them to leave. Mr Ismail, who worked for the company for 18 years, was made redundant in 2009 and is claiming unfair dismissal.
He told a tribunal in central London that he was moved from the Kenilworth hotel in the West End to the Vanderbilt in South Kensington in 2001. “The Kenilworth was refurbished,” he said. “I was told I was going to be transferred because the new hotel needed a new and younger image and they wanted someone younger to run the restaurant.
“I was then aged 48, so I was transferred to the Vanderbilt. I was replaced by an attractive young woman of about 28 years old. I told the human resources director it was not right.”
Once at the Vanderbilt, Mr Ismail, who claimed he only ever earned £26,000 ($41,760) a year despite younger managers receiving £40,000 ($64,246), said he witnessed further incidents showing age discrimination. “On one occasion the general manager, Charles Oak, asked me what I thought of the food and beverages team and I said they seemed fine. He said he did not like the fact that in my department there were three Philippine ladies who he said were ugly, fat, old and short.”
He claimed that another staff member asked Mr Oak what sort of staff he wanted and he replied girls who were “young, blonde, sexy and with short skirts”.
In 2007, Mr Ismail said, he was called to a meeting with three senior managers and told to go to the Mayfair hotel and find fault with older staff. “They wanted me to go down and get rid of them,” he said. “I was told to find fault with them and pressure them so they would leave.” He said he did not find any problems with the staff during two months there.
Egyptian-born Mr Ismail, a Muslim, said he also believed there were racial and religious reasons for dismissing him. He alleged that Indian staff were given preference after the hotel chain came under Indian ownership and he claimed to have been the subject of religious discrimination after he was forwarded a joke email that disparaged Islamic groups.
Mr Ismail, of Bayswater, West London, is claiming unfair dismissal and discrimination on the grounds of age, disability, race, religious beliefs and the fact that he was a union member.
The hearing continues.