Employers beware demanding degrees for high level applicants- 16/05/2012
Employers may have to change their promotion and employment policies on qualifications, following a landmark judgement, warns a leading Shropshire employment lawyer.
Charlotte Charlesworth-Jones, an employment solicitor at Shropshire law firm FBC Manby Bowdler LLP, says that judges have ruled that a man who was denied the chance of a job promotion because he did not hold a degree was the victim of workplace discrimination on grounds of his age.
She says: “This could have wide ranging consequences for employers and how they recruit staff in future, possibly restricting their ability to state holding a degree as prerequisite for job applicants.
“Employers will have to be cautious in their approach to requiring job applicants to have a degree, or failing to promote employees without a degree. It will question whether high levels of experience is an acceptable substitute to having a degree.”
Terence Homer, an ex-police officer who worked as an adviser on the Policy National Legal Database, claimed he was discriminated against after his employer introduced a new three-tier grading structure.
To reach the top tier, employees were required to have a law degree, which Mr Homer did not have and was not required to hold when he first took up his post.
Judges at the Supreme Court ruled that, as the 62-year-old would not have time to complete a four-year law degree before his retirement date, he had no chance of being promoted to the organisation’s top grade, which amounted to indirect discrimination on grounds of age.
However, the court said it was still open for the employer to justify the discriminatory requirement and referred the case back to the Employment Tribunal to consider this issue.