It is not just the entertainment sector that should be studying the full judgment of Miriam O’Reilly’s claim against the BBC. While the headlines are all about the dangers of pandering to the assumed prejudice of some younger viewers, there are more profound lessons to be learned about the place of older employees in the workforce.
One striking feature of the case is that the BBC was unable to produce any documentary evidence of the criteria it claimed to have been using to select presenters to “refresh” the look of Countryfile. That made it difficult for it to justify why all the new presenters chosen were significantly younger that Ms O’Reilly. Another is that the dispute was not about employees in the strict sense of the word, but concerned the allocation of what could be termed free-lance work.
The case is therefore not just about the creative industry, but serves as a warning to employers in all sectors to make sure they are being sufficiently rigorous about selecting people to work for them.