Supreme Court Rules on Age Discrimination Case

16 July 2013

 

Mr Homer joined the Police National Legal Database as a civilian employee in 1995. In 2003 his employer, West Yorkshire Police, introduced a three-tier career grading scheme. One of the requirements of the highest tier was a law degree or similar together with five years’ experience in criminal law. Mr Homer was highly regarded but his application to the third tier was refused on the grounds that he did not possess ‘a law degree or similar’. He issued a formal grievance, asking to be treated as a transitional exception, but the force did not hold the required meetings and the grievance was eventually rejected.

At that time, Mr Homer was 62 and if he had studied for a degree part-time alongside his job that would have put him beyond the normal retirement age (the default retirement age of 65 was still in force) and, therefore, it was argued that this was indirect age discrimination.

Mr Homer’s original Employment Tribunal Hearing found in favour of his claim for indirect age discrimination against West Yorkshire Police, but the Tribunal’s decision was overturned by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT).

An appeal against the EAT decision was turned down by the Court of Appeal but Mr Homer was granted leave to appeal to the Supreme Court, which ruled that he had been the victim of indirect discrimination.

The case was then referred back the Employment Tribunal to establish whether the force’s actions were ‘objectively justified’ or not. The Tribunal ruled in favour of Mr Homer and he will receive compensation for loss of earnings and for the failure to deal correctly with his grievance.

Comment

This case was heard under the ‘old’ age discrimination legislation. If it had not been for the default retirement age, Mr Homer would have been able to continue his studies and his employment beyond age 65.

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