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K MACCULLOCH v IMPERIAL CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES PLC

Age discrimination, whether direct or indirect, could be justified if the treatment was a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim; but, in considering proportionality, an employment tribunal had to determine whether an objective balance had been struck between the discriminatory effect of the measure and the needs of the employer.

9 September 2008


The appellant employee (M) appealed against an employment tribunal’s decision that the respondent employer (X) had not subjected her to age discrimination, and also against the amount it awarded her for automatically unfair dismissal. X had a redundancy payments scheme under which the size of the payments increased with age and length of service. M had been dismissed at the age of 37 after seven years and eight months’ service. She was entitled to

55 per cent of her gross annual salary, whereas employees aged between 50 and 57 with 10 or more years’ service were entitled to 175 per cent of their salary. She alleged that that constituted direct discrimination because the amount was directly related to age, and indirect discrimination because employees with longer service would tend to be older. X conceded that its redundancy scheme discriminated directly against younger employees, but the tribunal accepted that the difference in treatment was justified as it was a p...

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