Rolls-Royce loses 'age discrimination' case

A judge rules that Rolls-Royce is wrong to want to discount long service as a factor in redundancies

Britain's biggest union has won what it hailed as a "landmark" ruling against aerospace group Rolls-Royce over age discrimination at its Derby and Hucknall facilities.

A judge in the High Court in London ruled in favour of Unite over whether long service should be taken into account when selecting workers for redundancy.

The union announced that the ruling "sets a precedent for protecting older workers from the effects of redundancy".

Rolls-Royce's case was that taking long service into account amounted to unlawful indirect age discrimination against younger employees.

The company claimed, said Unite, that part of a long-standing redundancy selection agreement was unlawful in the light of 2006 regulations which outlaw certain types of age or service-related discrimination.

"This would have had the effect of automatically discounting long service in future rounds of redundancy," the union added.

Unite joint general secretary Derek Simpson said after the ruling by Sir Thomas Morison: "This landmark ruling sets a precedent for protecting older workers from the effects of redundancy."

Sir Thomas said Rolls-Royce had contended that the length of service criterion in collective agreements relating to the company's Derby and Hucknall sites was "unlawful age discrimination which cannot be justified", while the union argued it was lawful.

Finding for the union, Sir Thomas said: "Rolls-Royce are wrong in their contention that the length of service criterion in the collective agreements is unlawful" as a result of the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006.

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