Tribunal rules in favour of former Police Inspector

20 February 2013

An Employment Tribunal has ruled that West Yorkshire Police were unjustified in discriminating against a former police inspector in the final stage of an eight-year-long age discrimination case.

The case, handled by head of Employment Law at McCormicks Solicitors of Harrogate, Neil Goodrum, from the outset, went to the Supreme Court last year which ruled that West Yorkshire Police indirectly discriminated against former inspector Terry Homer in a landmark judgment on age discrimination. It was the first time an age discrimination case had reached the highest court of appeal in the UK.

Head of Employment Law at McCormicks Solicitors of Harrogate, Neil Goodrum
Head of Employment Law at McCormicks Solicitors of Harrogate, Neil Goodrum

The case was then referred back the Employment Tribunal in Leeds in November to establish whether the force’s actions were justified. It ruled last week in favour of Mr Homer and ordered that he should be compensated.

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 ruled that he had been the victim of indirect discrimination.

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.

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 of 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’.

He will now be compensated for his loss of earnings because he was unable to be promoted to the third tier as well as for West Yorkshire Police’s failure to deal correctly with his complaint.

Neil Goodrum said:

The long-awaited outcome of this case offers a clear warning to employers about how careful they must be not to discriminate indirectly. Age discrimination is about far more than requiring someone to retire at a certain age or refusing to employ someone who is considered either too old or too young and employers must take heed.

McCormicks’ Employment Law team is recommended by both the latest editions of UK Legal 500 and Chambers UK, the leading guides to the legal profession, with Chambers describing Neil Goodrum as guiding clients in employment matters with “expert finesse”.

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