The Supreme Court has ruled that West Yorkshire Police indirectly discriminated against a former inspector in a landmark judgment on age discrimination following a seven-year-long case handled by McCormicks Solicitors of Harrogate.
Terry Homer has been represented by the head of Employment Law at McCormicks, Neil Goodrum, throughout his seven-year attempt to show that the West Yorkshire force discriminated against him on grounds of age.
It is the first time an age discrimination case has reached what is the highest court of appeal in the UK.
Mr Homer’s original Employment Tribunal Hearing in 2007 found in favour of his claim for indirect age discrimination against West Yorkshire Police. The Tribunal’s decision was then overturned by the Employment Appeal Tribunal in 2008.
An appeal against that decision was turned down by the Court of Appeal in 2010 but Mr Homer was granted leave to appeal to the Supreme Court, which on Wednesday handed down its judgment that he had been the victim of indirect discrimination. A further issue, as to whether West Yorkshire Police could justify its actions, will return to the Employment Tribunal for further consideration.
Mr. Homer’s appeal, both in the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, was funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Mr Homer said:
I am overwhelmed with the outcome and feel I have been vindicated in my belief that I was being discriminated against. I chose the right firm and the right solicitor because I knew that McCormicks, and Neil Goodrum, would fight it all the way if they believed I had a case.
Mr Homer was a legal adviser to West Yorkshire Police. His promotion to a higher grade was blocked because he did not have a law degree. At that time, Mr Homer was 62 and if he had studied for a degree part-time alongside his job that would have put him beyond the normal retirement age and, therefore, it was argued that this was indirect age discrimination.
Neil Goodrum said:
Mr Homer served as a police office for 30 years before retiring and then joining the Police National Legal Database as a civilian employee in 1995. In 2003, his employer introduced a three-tier career grading scheme. One of the requirements to the highest tier was a law degree or similar together with five years’ experience in criminal law. “Mr Homer was highly regarded but his application to the third tier was refused on the grounds that he did not possess ‘a law degree or similar’.
This has been a very important case, coming as it did soon after the age discrimination legislation was introduced, as it has established how careful employers must be not to discriminate indirectly.