Ms Rainbow qualified as a teacher in 1972 and is aged 61. She worked for a school in Milton Keynes and was employed on one of the highest pay-scales for teachers. In April 2006, the school began to experience financial difficulties and the headteacher asked Rainbow to consider reducing her work to two days a week. The headteacher agreed that if Rainbow accepted a reduction in her working hours she would be informed of any future positions in the school and that she would have an option on all supply cover days.
On this basis, Rainbow signed a new contract. In September and October, however, most supply work went to external agencies. When Rainbow queried this with the headteacher, she said she was told that she was too expensive to employ. In October 2006, a full-time post became available at the school. The school placed an advertisement for the position stating that it "would suit candidates in the first five years of their career".
Rainbow applied for the position but her application was rejected without interview. She brought an employment tribunal claim alleging direct and indirect age discrimination in relation to the school's failure to provide her with supply work, and in relation to the terms of the job advertisement and the school's failure to consider her for the vacant position.
The tribunal found that the school had not directly or indirectly discriminated against Rainbow in relation to the allocation of supply work to an external agency. This was because the supply teacher could be of any working age.
However, in relation to the job ad and vacant position, the tribunal found that the school had indirectly discriminated against Rainbow. It said that the decision to appoint someone in their first five years of teaching experience was a provision, criterion or practice which disadvantaged Rainbow's age group.
Further, Rainbow did actually suffer disadvantage by not being shortlisted for the position. The tribunal rejected the school's argument that the discrimination was justified due to the cost of employing Rainbow on the basis that the evidence su