Indirect discrimination can be justified where there is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
In Woodcock v Cumbria Primary Care Trust the Court of Appeal has upheld a tribunal’s decision that an NHS Trust’s dismissal of a redundant chief executive was justified. The redundancy was without proper consultation to avoid his qualification for an enhanced pension (which would have been costly for the Trust) and this was not regarded as unlawful age discrimination.
The Court of Appeal held that Mr Woodcock’s treatment by the Trust could not be characterised as being only aimed at saving or avoiding costs and that the Trust’s actions had been a proportionate means of achieving its legitimate aim.
This case is fact sensitive and there remains concern about whether ‘costs alone’ may justify indirect discrimination. We strongly suggest that you seek advice if you have to make any decisions about justifying indirect discrimination.