Doncaster, England -- (SBWIRE) -- 05/27/2015 -- The Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) is keeping a watchful eye on potential unfair dismissal cases where people are close to retirement – thus pension-entitlement age.
A recent unfair dismissal claim is to be brought back in front of a tribunal as the EAT show concern at the potential for hidden age-discrimination redundancies which would allow companies to avoid large pension costs.
The case in question, Sturmey v Weymouth and Portland Borough Council saw Mrs. Sturmey – who worked for Portland Borough Council – dismissed a few days before her 55th birthday. The reason she was given for being made redundant was a "restructure" in the team; however the EAT has sent the case back for a re-hearing after believing Mrs. Sturmey's dismissal was age-discriminatory, designed to save the council a significant expenditure as she would have been entitled to an immediate pension at the age of 55 .
The Tribunal at first instance concluded that anyone in Sturmey's position would likely face dismissal too, regardless of age. They had also commented that saving council and taxpayers' money was reason enough for the redundancy in any event.
The EAT disagreed and sent the claim for re-hearing on the grounds that the Tribunal had not considered evidence regarding the timing of the dismissal, which did tend to support the age discrimination claim. In addition, the Tribunal had relied on case law rather than draw its own conclusions based on the evidence presented.
The Legal Team, which specialise in Employment Law, has reflected on the EAT's decision: "Dismissals and redundancies are always going to be a point of contention with employees; but in cases where a person feels discrimination has cost them their job, they should have the right to contest the case.
"Whether in this example Mrs. Sturmey really was a victim of age discrimination or the timing of the dismissal was mere coincidence is for a new Tribunal to decide. However, cases of unlawful redundancy do occur, and in a situation where you have been loyal to a company for many years to be deprived of your pension entitlement is very unfair."
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