July 30, 2013

Qualification requirement with age discrimination

The Claimant was 62 years old and did not have time to obtain a degree before his retirement at age 65. The Supreme Court had decided that although the requirement to have a degree amounted to indirect age discrimination it was for the Tribunal to decide whether the employer was able to show that the requirement was nonetheless justified.

In short, the Tribunal found that the requirement was neither appropriate nor reasonably necessary to enable the employer to attract and retain advisers of a high-calibre and in particular the employer had failed to show that allowing existing staff to progress to the highest level without a degree would have been unworkable or unfair. It accepted that, in introducing a new grading structure requiring a law degree to achieve the highest grade, the employer was pursuing the legitimate aim of recruiting and training the requisite calibre of staff. However where it fell down was in showing that the means of achieving the aim were proportionate. The employer was not able to show that it was proportionate and necessary to achieve the aim that the existing legal advisers had to hold a law degree in order to progress to the highest pay grade.

This legal update is provided for general information purposes only and should not be applied to specific circumstances without prior consultation with us.

For further details on any of the issues covered in this update please contact Gemma Ospedale, Partner in Employment on 020 7583 2222.

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