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Age Discrimination

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[Thanks to Ed McFarlane of Deminos HR for preparing this case summary]

If a Civil Service voluntary severance scheme pays older leavers more than younger leavers, is that unlawful direct discrimination on grounds of age?

No, says the EAT in Lockwood v DWP, turning down the Claimant's appeal against a fact-based employment tribunal judgement.

The Claimant joined the Civil Service at 18 and took voluntary severance nearly eight years later. Her severance payment was about 61% of that of a colleague aged over 35 with the same service. The employment tribunal rejected her complaint of age discrimination, holding that her comparator was not properly comparable, noting the greater comparative difficulties that older workers face on losing work, and further that the Respondent's policy of higher payments for older leavers to provide financial security was objectively justified on the facts.

The EAT's judgment was fortified by applying the Supreme Court decision of Seldon (see bulletin on this here), decided after the employment tribunal case, and in particular paragraphs 67, 73 and 75 on public interest considerations in age discrimination.