Mr Engel held the office of Parking Adjudicator with the Transport and Environment Committee of London Councils (“TECLC”). The role of a Parking Adjudicator is judicial in nature and involves ruling on parking violations. Terms of office are 5 years.
Mr Engel was appointed in 2002 and his appointment was renewed again in 2007. However, Mr Engel’s third appointment in 2012 was for a much shorter term. His third term would expire in May 2013 when he would reach the age of 70 – the normal retirement age for parking adjudicators.
Three other adjudicators who were younger than Mr Engel were reappointed in 2012 for full 5 year terms. Because of this difference in treatment, Mr Engel brought a claim in the Employment Tribunal arguing that this was direct age discrimination.
The Tribunal upheld Mr Engel’s claim.
Although not strictly an employee, it was common ground that the Equality Act 2010 should apply to Mr Engel. TECLC accepted age discrimination, but argued that it was justified.
The aims relied on by TECLC were “independence”, “resources” and “dignity”.
The Tribunal accepted TECLC’s aim of “independence”, but held that enforcing a retirement age of 70 was not proportionate. TECLC had failed to provide sufficient evidence to show that imposing a retirement age of 70 fulfils its objective and that there were no less discriminatory methods which could also meet its objective.
TECLC’s “resource” aim centred on the ability to plan for recruitment with some certainty about numbers. TECLC argued that a retirement age of 70 was needed enable TECLC to do this. However, the Tribunal rejected this argument. It held that TECLC might be able to rely on this aim to justify its retirement age, but that TECLC had been unable to provide sufficient information to do so in this case.
The Tribunal then looked at “dignity”. TECLC argued that adopting a retirement age of 70 would promote dignity of older workers as it would avoid the need to discuss performance management with adjudicators. The Tribunal was bound by EU caselaw to accept it as an aim but expressed the same sympathy for older workers as shown by Baroness Hale in Seldon. However, the Tribunal rejected the “dignity” justification as it held that TECLC did not provide any evidence to support 70 as being a proportionate age for achieving its aim.
As it had rejected all justification arguments, the Tribunal upheld Mr Engel’s claim and awarded him £6,000 for injury to feelings. It also awarded a sum of £736 by way of preparation time.
Mr AJ Engel v Transports and Environment Committee of London Councils, London Central Employment Tribunal, 26 April 2013, case number 2200472/2012