Thursday, 10 February 2011

Knowledge of the person making the decision to dismiss is what counts!

Knowledge of the person making the decision to dismiss is what counts!

9th February - In the recent case of Orr v Milton Keynes Council, the appellant, had been dismissed following two separate incidents, including rudeness to his line manager, M, both of which his employer found amounted to gross misconduct. The decision maker had been unaware that the second incident had been provoked by the conduct and language of M, which the Tribunal later found amounted to direct race discrimination....

The Defendant won their case at the Employment Appeals Tribunal but the Court of Appeal (the next step up) restored the original decision of the Employment Tribunal. The Court of Appeal thus held by a majority that the tribunal had been correct to conclude that the dismissal remained fair because the decision, on the facts known to the decision maker, was reasonable.

Sedley LJ regarded what was known by the employer and the employees at the time and decided accordingly. Therefore, the moral of the story is that it is what was known by the employer at the time of dismissal is crucial.

Useful article on default retirement age

Curtesy of HR Zone and Iain Jenkins Prtner at Lee and Priestly

The recent announcement by the Government that the default retirement age (DRA) will, as expected, be abolished with effect from 1 October has been welcomed by age campaigners.

It does not, however, necessarily spell the end of forced retirement and employers groups, including the CBI, have pointed out. The proposed abolition of the DRA in October 2011 will notprevent private employers from having a compulsory retirementage provided they can objectively justify having it.

To establish objective justification they will need to have a legitimate aim, or aims, for having a DRA and, in relation to those employees to whom it applies, that aim, or those aims, must be consistent with the Government's approach to the UK's DRA of 65 and both the chosen retirement age and the process for implementing it are a proportionate response to those legitimate aims.

That will be for the courts to determine on a case by case basis and, whilst it is likely to be a high hurdle, it will be possible. Recent case law (Seldon v Clarkson Wright & Jakes) has made it easier, in principle, for employers in the private sector to put forward an argument of objective justification and to have a DRA of some kind, although it is probably going to make it more difficult to have one across the board.

Employers should, therefore, look carefully at their need to have a retirement age and then at how to justify and implement it. Iain Jenkins, partner at law firm Lee & Priestley, says that being able to justify having a retirement age after October 2011 will be a high hurdle, but not impossible …