Pike -v- Somerset County Council was an indirect sex discrimination case brought by a female part-time teacher. The EAT held that the employment tribunal (ET) had applied the wrong pool of comparators and had therefore been wrong to strike out the claim.

The employee took ill-health early retirement in December 1993, receiving a pension from the Teachers' Pension Scheme (TPS). In January 1994 she returned to part-time teaching. At that time the TPS rules permitted only full-time teachers to rejoin the scheme post-retirement. She brought an equal pay claim on the grounds of indirect sex discrimination (because more part-time teachers were female) before the ET as the claimant in a test case involving 74 teachers.

The ET had accepted the respondents' submission that the appropriate comparator was the whole of the membership of the profession to which the TPS applied, and struck out the claim on the basis that the employee had failed to show that the rule in issue had a disparate adverse effect on female employees. The employee appealed.

The EAT allowed the appeal, holding:

  • the ET should have disregarded those members of the workforce who had no interest in the benefit in question, i.e. all those under retirement age and working; the correct pool of comparators were returning teachers; the disadvantaged group within the pool were part-time workers and the advantaged group were full-timers
  • the employee had succeeded in demonstrating that the exclusion of returning part-time teachers from the TPS had a disparate adverse effect on female employees.

The matter was remitted back to the ET for hearing.