Killa v Electronic Motions Systems Ltd - Employment Tribunal

The Case

Mr Killa, aged 59 at the time of his dismissal, was employed by Electronic Motions Systems as an electronic engineer. He enjoyed a successful career with the company lasting 8 years.

At the first redundancy consultation meeting, Mr Killa was immediately excluded from the premises and from his computer. He was not allowed to return to work. Despite a suitable alternative position being available, he was not offered it. Mr Killa was shocked by his unexpected selection for redundancy, and his ultimate dismissal.

He raised a grievance which was not dealt with by the company in accordance with the statutory procedures. Following his dismissal, Mr Killa brought proceedings for unfair dismissal and age discrimination. At the time of his dismissal, his net earnings were £1,958.35 per month.

The Decision

The Tribunal held that Mr Killa had been unfairly dismissed and subjected to age discrimination. It awarded him over £90,000 in compensation.

The Tribunal accepted that Mr Killa had taken steps to find work, that he had applied for numerous vacancies and retrained as an electrician to make it easier to find work. He was also willing to become a self-employed electrician and, as such, had done everything he could to mitigate his loss.

In reaching its Judgment the Tribunal took into account, amongst other matters, Mr Killa's inability to find work following his dismissal, stating that "the reality is that age discrimination exists and is likely to be highly influential in limiting his opportunities". The Tribunal added that "it is not, unfortunately, the case that someone aged 59, 60 or over, competes on a level playing field with younger people". The total award of £90,361 included amounts for loss of earnings, loss of dental and medical care benefits, lost pension contributions, loss of statutory rights and damages for injury to feelings.

What does it mean for you?

Employers must ensure that all decisions taken, and the procedures followed when implementing redundancies are not tainted by discriminatory factors. Selecting older workers for redundancy in the absence of any objective justification for example, is extremely risky and can give rise to significant awards of compensation. Tribunals will take the view that older employees may take longer to find new work, which will increase the level of the compensation award.