Another important age discrimination and retirement case this month is Homer v West Yorks Police, which concerned a senior police officer who became a legal adviser at the Police National Legal Database after retiring from the police aged 51. At the time he joined, there was no requirement for advisers to have a law degree, but the PNLD later introduced a new grading structure, which required a degree for promotion to the top grade, with the intention of improving recruitment and retention. At this point, at the age of 62, Mr Homer was allocated to the second highest grade. He made a complaint of indirect discrimination because he would be unable to complete a law degree before his planned retirement age of 65, and so could not get promotion. He failed in both the Employment Appeal Tribunal and in the Court of Appeal, because it was considered that the reason for the discrimination was not his age, but his impending retirement.
The Supreme Court rejected this approach: it did not make sense to compare those approaching retirement with those leaving for other reasons, over which they had a choice, with those faced with a compulsory retirement age, nor was it realistic to treat retirement as unrelated to age. Continue reading