Beck v Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce ET/2328832

An employment tribunal held that a 42 year old head of marketing was unfairly dismissed and subject to age discrimination when the employer Bank was actively seeking to find a replacement for him with a “younger, entrepreneurial profile”. Mr Beck was also entitled to a protective award of 90 days’ pay because the Bank had not engaged in any collective consultation and had provided meaningless information to him. Pay in this case however, did not include any estimate of Mr Beck’s anticipated discretionary bonus.

Although the Bank had been warned by its HR department that the use of the word “younger” was inappropriate, the wording was included in the brief sent to a recruitment consultant. The Bank’s evidence that there was still a redundancy situation even though the plan was to replace Mr Beck with another person who had the same key skills, was not credible.

Mr Beck nevertheless failed in his claims of race discrimination even though the Tribunal accepted that Canadians and ex pats were favoured for redeployment in a genuine redundancy situation. It was held that such employees would not have been given more favourable treatment if they too had fallen out with the Bank.

As damages for age discrimination are uncapped these will be determined in a future hearing.  

Key point: The case serves as a reminder to all employers to avoid potentially discriminatory wording in recruitment exercises and to treat similar non redundancy dismissals as dismissals for “some other substantial reason”.