Mrs Sturmey worked for Weymouth and Portland Borough Council (“WPBC”). Mrs Sturmey would become entitled to an immediate pension upon reaching 55 years of age.
As part of a reorganisation, WPBC made a number of redundancies. Mrs Sturmey was dismissed by reason of redundancy 11 days before her 55th birthday. Mrs Sturmey brought a claim in the Employment Tribunal, arguing that the timing of her dismissal was affected by the fact that she was approaching the age of 55.
The Employment Tribunal found that Mrs Sturmley had not been less favourably treated because of age, but even if she had, that this was objectively justified. The Employment Tribunal dismissed Mrs Sturmey’s claim.
Mrs Sturmey appealed to the EAT.
The EAT began by looking at the Employment Tribunal’s reasoning on the issue of whether Mrs Sturmley was treated less favourably because of age. The EAT found flaws in the Employment Tribunal’s reasoning. The EAT held that the Employment Tribunal’s decision was entirely missing significant elements of the last few weeks prior to Mrs Sturmley’s dismissal. The Eat held that the Employment Tribunal had failed to properly grapple with the issue and found its reasoning deficient.
The EAT then looked at the justification issue. The EAT held that Woodcock did not set out any general principle as to whether omitting or eliding stages in the redundancy process will always achieve a legitimate aim or will always be a proportionate means of doing so. In Woodcock, a series of accidents worked in the employee’s favour with very large potential additional pension costs for the employer. In this case, there were no obvious series of accidents – it was simply unfortunate for Mrs Sturmey that the reorganisation happened in the 12 months in which she would reach 55 years of age.
The accordingly EAT upheld the appeal. The case was remitted for rehearing before a fresh tribunal.
Mrs S Sturmey v The Weymouth And Portland Borough Council (Age Discrimination)  UKEAT 0114_14_2908 (29 August 2014)