Mr Constandinou and Mr Kakkoufa were highly skilled specialists working for Supadance International Ltd, a company who specialise in the production and sale of ballroom dancing shoes both in the UK and overseas.
Over the years leading up to April 2015, there was increasing pressure from overseas competitors. The profitability of the company had to be addressed and it was anticipated that redundancies would be necessary.
Constandinou and Kakkoufa were long-standing employees with 25 and 21 years’ service respectively. They were employed on high salaries. Both were informed at a meeting on 18 August 2015 that they were being dismissed by reason of redundancy. Both were given pre-prepared dismissal letters dated 17 August 2015 and had received no prior warning that they were at risk of redundancy. No redundancy procedure had been followed and no consultation had taken place.
Constandinou and Kakkoufa brought claims of direct age discrimination and unfair dismissal against Supadance International Ltd, the Managing Director and the Chairman.
The Employment Tribunal ruled that the ages of Constandinou and Kakkoufa were a significant and material influence in their dismissal for the reason of redundancy, rendering their dismissal both discriminatory and unfair.
The Tribunal held that, although age was not the principal reason or even a secondary substantial primary reason, it was nevertheless a significant reason. The Tribunal found no evidence that the company took advice from their external support and advisers with regard to a proper redundancy process. It was determined that there was no consideration to either seek volunteers for redundancy or reduce the pay or hours of either Constandinou or Kakkoufa, which they both said they would have been prepared to accept.
The Tribunal accepted that comments, such as those made by the General Manager which compared the factory’s workforce to a football team by stating that “old workers like old football players need to leave so that it could bring in new blood otherwise the team would not be efficient”, reflected an ongoing belief that Constandinou and Kakkoufa should be made redundant in part because of their age. Therefore, it was concluded that if Constandinou and Kakkoufa had been younger there would have been more consideration of ways in which they could have been retained.
Mr C Constandinou and Mr T Kakkoufa v Supadance International Ltd and Others, 19 March 2018, case number 3200222/2016