EAT Upholds Age-Related Redundancy on Money-Saving Grounds

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has now upheld an earlier Tribunal’s decision that employers can objectively justify age discrimination in a redundancy situation on money-saving grounds.

In Woodcock v Cumbria Primary Care Trust, Mr Woodcock was Chief Executive of North Cumbria Primary Care Trust and was made redundant following the merger of a number of Primary Care Trusts in the area.  He applied for one of the new Chief Executive posts after the merger but was unsuccessful and no alternative employment was found for him.

He claimed that his dismissal amounted to direct age discrimination because notice to terminate his employment was given so that his redundancy occurred one month before his 50th birthday, which meant he was unable to benefit from an enhanced pension.

In August 2009, the Employment Tribunal found that Mr Woodcock had indeed suffered direct discrimination by being dismissed without proper consultation, but decided that the discrimination was justified as a ‘proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim’.  They found that the aim in question was “to bring about Mr Woodcock’s dismissal for redundancy and to avoid the additional costs to the Trusts of his attaining the age of 50 before the end of his notice period and thus being entitled to enhanced payment.”

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