In this Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) decision, the EAT upheld the original tribunal decision that an employee had been subjected to direct discrimination on grounds of his age when his employer had dismissed him after 30 years’ service just before his 50th birthday in order to avoid his becoming entitled to the enhanced early retirement benefits that would have applied from age 50.
The tribunal concluded that the employer’s motivation for declining to redeploy Mr Wooster or to extend his employment by seconding him was based on a desire to terminate his employment before he reached age 50. While the EAT agreed with the Council that it would have been acting outside its powers had it retained Mr Wooster past age 50 simply so he could collect his enhanced pension, it upheld the tribunal’s decision that direct discrimination on grounds of age had occurred as Mr Wooster’s entitlement to pension had been taken into account in the application of the Council’s redundancy and redeployment policy. The correct way to assess whether age discrimination had occurred was by reference to a hypothetical comparator of a different age.
Comment: employment law cases are of interest as the factors taken into account by both the tribunal and the EAT are also relevant in relation to age discrimination in pensions cases. Employers should be aware that age discrimination claims may arise where defined benefit pension schemes are involved and that the damages for successful age discrimination claims are not subject to any limit.
View the decision.