Mr Wooster worked for the Council since 1973. In 2003 he was seconded to a social landlord, then in 2006 he was told his secondment would be coming to an end and unless alternative employment could be found within the council, he would be dismissed for redundancy. He was offered a voluntary redundancy package and reluctantly accepted. His employment with the Council terminated shortly before the end of 2006.
Mr Wooster then brought proceedings against the Council claiming that his dismissal was both unfair and was age discriminatory. The age discrimination claim was rooted in the fact that he was dismissed 6 ½ months before his 50th birthday. If Mr Wooster had remained in Council employment until his 50th birthday, he would have been eligible for an immediate early retirement pension under the Local Government Pension Scheme. As he was dismissed prior to this, Mr Wooster would have to wait until 60 at the earliest. Mr Wooster claimed that the Council’s decision to dismiss him was motivated by a desire to avoid having to fund his early pension, and so motivated by age.
The Council admitted that the dismissal was automatically unfair as they had not followed the correct procedure, but denied that Mr Wooster had been discriminated against. At the Employment Tribunal Mr Wooster succeeded in both his unfair dismissal and discrimination claims and the Council appealed.
The Council’s appeal concerned Mr Wooster’s age discrimination claim. The Council also appealed on the grounds that Mr Wooster’s redundancy was inevitable and that therefore any compensation awarded should be reduced to take this into account. They were unsuccessful.
Though the appeal found in favour of Mr Wooster, the issue of how much compensation he should be awarded has not been decided yet. A hearing to determine the compensation amount will take place later this year. Mr Wooster is claiming £1m in, potentially, the largest ever amount awarded for age discrimination.
The Mayor and Burgesses of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets v Mr J Wooster (2009) WL 2848097