• Robert Spicer

Age discrimination:allocation of resources:new Court of Appeal decision

Allocation of resources

Proportionate means of achieving legitimate aim

Case Chief Constable of West Midlands Police and Others v Harrod and Others (2017) Morning Star, July 19, Court of Appeal

Facts Five police forces decided to reduce staff numbers because of budget cuts. The forces were empowered, in the general interests of efficiency, to retire officers who had qualified for two-thirds pension. Officers had to have served for 30 years to qualify and the minimum age of entry was 18. The retirement therefore disadvantaged anyone over the age of 48. A number of officers complained of indirect age discrimination. The ET upheld the complaints on the basis that that there were other methods of achieving the employer’s aim. The EAT reversed this decision and the officers appealed to the Court of Appeal.

Decision 1. The appeal was dismissed.

2. The selection process undoubtedly gave rise to prima facie age discrimination. The question was whether it was a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

3. The function of tribunals was not to challenge an employer’s legitimate decision about the allocation of resources and whether they represent a genuine “need” but rather to balance it against the impact complained of.

4. The decision to confine retirement to officers with more than 30 years’ service could not be criticised because no other method of selection was lawful under the Police Pension Regulations.

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