In a recent case, an Employment Tribunal has ruled that an Oxford University professor forced to retire before his 70th birthday was unfairly dismissed and discriminated against. The Reading Employment Tribunal found Oxford University acted unlawfully by dismissing Professor Paul Ewart, who was head of atomic and laser physics at Oxford’s Clarendon Laboratory, because of his age.
What is discrimination?
There are two types of discrimination, both of which are forbidden under The Equality Act 2010. This act provides protection for every section of UK employment, including recruitment, training, promotion/lack of promotion, dismissal, differences in employee pay, and unfavourable treatment in the workplace.
The most common type of discrimination, which is often the most noticeable, is direct discrimination. Whereas indirect discrimination is often more discrete, still being a very present issue but is more difficult to recognise.
No minimum length of service is required when making a claim on the grounds of age discrimination, and no limit exists for the amount of compensation that can be awarded. By law, any employee making an age discrimination claim is able to access information directly from their employer in order to assist their case – such as the one we discussed below.
The claimant had been working at the university for 38 years before his dismissal, being granted permission to work for another two years until he was 69, and was expecting a further extension until 2020 to complete his research on climate change. However, the university rejected his application to work in February 2017, when he was forced to retire under the EJRA scheme at the beginning of his research project.
During the Employment Tribunal, Paul Ewart stated that Oxford’s EJRA scheme was discriminatory in forcing older workers to retire, producing evidence to prove his point correct. However, the university insisted that the Employment-Justified Retirement Age policy is there to improve diversity and career progression for younger academics.
Based on the case, the Employment Tribunal found the university’s policy, which was intended to foster “intergenerational fairness”, had only created a “trivial” number of new opportunities for younger academics, forcing older staff to retire.
Earlier last year, another Oxford professor lost a similar claim against the university after he was made to retire at 67.
About Nationwide Employment Lawyers
Our entire firm wants the best for our clients, which is why we will never settle any discrimination claims because it’s in our best interest. We completely understand exactly what needs to happen during a case, and our wealth of expertise allows us to focus on the central parts of a claim to save time and costs. We always proudly deliver the very best results for clients, even in some of the most difficult circumstances.
If you are interested in working with Nationwide Employment Lawyers for your case, please feel free to visit our website. On the other hand, you can also telephone us on 020 8263 6080 to have a conversation with our staff. You can also complete the contact form on our website where someone will get back to you as soon as possible, and we can put together a solution to best meet your needs.