Miss Lockwood began working as an Administrative Officer at the Department for Work and Pensions (“DWP”) in October 1999. At this time she was aged 18. In April 2007, a voluntary redundancy scheme was put into place. Miss Lockwood applied for redundancy and her application was accepted.
As a 26 year old with 8 years’ service, DWP’s redundancy scheme entitled Miss Lockwood to £10,849.04. However, had Miss Lockwood been over 35 when leaving DWP, she would have received £17,690.58, despite having worked an identical length of time.
Miss Lockwood brought a claim of direct age discrimination.
The Employment Tribunal rejected Miss Lockwood’s claim.
The Employment Tribunal accepted the DWP’s statistical evidence that younger people adapt more easily to job loss as they tend to have fewer family commitments. The Employment Tribunal rejected Ms Lockwood’s argument that younger people are more likely to cohabit, so will be faced with the same financial commitments as those who are married. Because of this, the Employment Tribunal held that there were material differences between the Miss Lockwood’s age group (under 35 year olds) and the comparator group (over 35 year olds) and the age groups were not truly comparable.
The Employment Tribunal also held that even if they were, DWP would have been able to objectively justify the difference in treatment.
The Employment Tribunal found that the aim of the DWP was to produce a “proportionate financial cushion…by way of staged payments and a banding process”. They were also satisfied on the evidence that the DWP’s redundancy scheme was proportionate means of achieving this aim. The Employment Tribunal held that “methods of implementation were reasonably necessary”.
Miss R Lockwood and Mr D W Inglis v (1) Department of Work & Pensions, (2) Cabinet Office. Case number 1808694/07, 101539/08, 115515/10, London Central Employment Tribunal 25 October 2011
This case was appealed to the EAT. Click here for a summary of that decision.