This is the fifth decision in Mr Homer's long running age discrimination claim. For an explanation of the facts, go to our summary of the Supreme Court case.
The tribunal thought Mr Homer's employer's aim of recruiting and retaining staff of an appropriate calibre was legitimate. Having a new grading structure was an appropriate and reasonably necessary way of achieving this aim. But insisting that existing legal advisers hold a law degree to get to the third level of pay was a step too far and was not justified. Mr Homer therefore won his claim for indirect discrimination.
The tribunal saw no problem with applying the new grading structure fully to new recruits but allowing existing staff to reach level three without a law degree. The employer had claimed making this distinction was too difficult and fraught with employee relations problems – but the tribunal thought the problems had been overstated. It made a comparison with providing a different pension scheme for new joiners when final salary pension schemes are closed down. There was also no evidence that the employer’s client base insisted their legal advisers have a law degree, or that the employer would lose people to competitors if an exception were made for existing staff.
The tribunal made clear it was not suggesting a special exception should be made just for Mr Homer (the only adviser without a law degree). Rather, it was saying that different requirements could have been applied to all existing staff compared to new recruits. Employers who grant privileges to employees in a protected group (e.g. older workers) risk directly discriminating against those outside the group.
Homer v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police ET/1803238/2007