The facts

Mr Osoba (aged 49) had served for 30 years as a police officer, firstly in the Royal Ulster Constabulary and later in the Hertfordshire Constabulary (“the Constabulary”). This length of service meant that he was eligible to retire on a full pension. From 2007 he was also in the Constabulary’s Skills Development Team, which consisted of seven police officers who trained other officers.

Due to a significant budget gap in 2011, the Constabulary identified the need for a reorganisation. Two of the seven officers in the Skills Development Team confirmed they would retire imminently and, of the remaining five, it was decided that two would be redeployed to other duties.

None of these five officers wished to be redeployed, so the Constabulary decided to draw up a matrix of skills for the purpose of determining who would remain in the team and who would be posted elsewhere. Mr Osoba contended that the matrix was deliberately manipulated so that he would not score as highly as his colleagues and that the reason behind this was to avoid the problem of having to recruit someone else in the event of his taking retirement after being retained. 

Mr Osoba submitted Employment Tribunal claims of both direct and indirect age discrimination.

The Employment Tribunal’s decision

Although the Tribunal found that Mr Osoba had, on the face of it, proved facts from which it could be concluded that he had been treated less favourably than other persons who were not able to retire and take their full pension as a result of his age, it held that Mr Osoba was not the victim of unlawful direct or indirect discrimination. The Tribunal did not believe that that the selection process was undertaken with the discriminatory motive of ensuring Mr Osoba would be selected so as to avoid difficulties with his future retirement.

The Tribunal criticised the selection matrix used by the Constabulary as “shambolic and to some degree incompetent”, but concluded that the matrix and its implementation did not place Mr Osoba at a particular disadvantage compared with other individuals who were not approaching imminent retirement.

Both of Mr Osoba’s claims were dismissed. 

The judgment is available here.

Mr A Osoba -v- The Chief Constable of the Hertfordshire Constabulary, Bedford Employment Tribunal case number 1200552/2012