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Redundancy and Age Discrimination

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Did a tribunal err in finding that an employer's curtailment of a redundancy dismissal process was a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim?

Yes, held the EAT in Cook v Gentoo Group Ltd.

The Claimant was dismissed by reason of redundancy. The tribunal found that the Respondent’s curtailment of the redundancy process to avoid the Claimant obtaining an enhanced pension when he reached 55 years of age did not constitute direct age discrimination.

In reaching this decision it held that the actual comparators identified by the Claimant were inappropriate. The tribunal did not consider hypothetical comparators. It held that in any event, they would have found the detriment to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

On appeal, the EAT asked the tribunal to set out its legitimate aim and the reasons why it found early dismissal was a proportionate means of achieving that aim. The further reasons provided by the tribunal were found not to demonstrate proper application of the legal principles and the case was remitted to a new tribunal for reconsideration.

Thanks to Kate Lea of didlaw for preparing this case summary.