London Borough of Barking and Dagenham faces age discrimination claims from 16 staff

Sixteen council workers have won the right to pursue claims of age discrimination against the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.

The employees argued that the criteria set out in the council’s long-service award scheme was an unlawful breach of age discrimination regulations. Their appeal was upheld by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT).

The scheme, which provided financial payouts to those who had worked for 25 continuous years and were aged over 55, paid out additional benefits over five stages to those who met both criteria.

All of the claimants in the Loraine Pulham v London Borough of Barking and Dagenham case had worked for the council in excess of 25 years, but were under the age of 55 by the time the scheme was withdrawn.

The first hearing, by Stratford Employment Tribunal, took place in March 2008 and saw the claim unanimously dismissed. Local government union Unison took the case to the EAT, and the appeal was upheld. The case has now been sent back to the tribunal for a revised hearing.

Dave Prentis, Unison general secretary, said: “It was not fair that [the employees] put in decades of service at the council and were then told that they are too young to receive a reward. This is a victory for any worker who is told that long service is rewarded by age, as this case has shown that it is a breach against regulations.”