EAT dismisses appeal, holding that ‘absence of financial means’ justifies indirect discrimination


Re: Heskett v Secretary of State for Justice [2019] UKEAT/0149/18

This appeal considered the changes made by the respondent to the rate at which certain Probation Officers progressed up an incremental salary scale, the effect of which was that progression to the top of the scale would take many years longer than previously.

The Tribunal below had held that the policy change was discriminatory, in that it favoured employees aged over 50. However, it held that this was justified. This was because the case was not a ‘cost alone’ case, which case law has established is not a legitimate aim capable of justifying discrimination. Rather, the Tribunal held that it was a legitimate aim for a company to seek to break even year on year and decide its resource allocation.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal confirmed that the Tribunal had correctly identified the key questions before it and weighed the relevant factors in the balance. As such the appeal was dismissed.

Claire Darwin was involved in this case.