Judge rejects challenges to £13k award for age discrimination solicitor

Manchester employment tribunal: Applications dismissed

An employment judge has refused applications from both sides to reconsider his decision to award an experienced property solicitor damages of £13,200 for age discrimination by a law firm.

Judge Langridge in Manchester rejected Raymond Levy’s argument that the damages should be higher, and Cheshire-based McHale Legal’s submission that both the liability and remedy rulings were flawed.

The tribunal originally ruled that the reason Mr Levy was not offered a job at McHale – despite being the only person interviewed – was that “he was considered expensive and that this was indeed synonymous with his being an experienced and older solicitor”. He was 57 at the time of the interview.

In the remedy ruling, the tribunal concluded that, had Mr Levy’s application gone further, he would have got the job on a salary of £45,000, but that his role would have only lasted a month.

This was because a personality clash “would inevitably have arisen”, while the firm ceased handling commercial property work in the months after.

He was awarded £1,700 for loss of earnings, £4,000 for injury to feelings and £6,000 in aggravated damages because of the way the firm conducted its defence and threatened to report Mr Levy to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). The rest of the award was made up of interest.

In seeking a reconsideration of the remedy ruling, Mr Levy said the aggravated damages should have been £10,000 and argued for a £3,000 increase in his compensation “to reflect the potential stigma in the marketplace of having the tribunal’s liability judgment available to prospective employers, notwithstanding the absence of any evidence in his case to support that claim”.

But Judge Langridge said both points were argued at the remedy hearing, and there was no merit in reconsidering the decisions already made by the tribunal.

She said McHale Legal’s application for reconsideration took issue “with a number of aspects of the tribunal’s liability and remedy judgments”, and accused the tribunal of misinterpreting the facts on numerous occasions.

The firm maintained that it was correct to tell the claimant that it would report him to the SRA if it transpired he had lied to the tribunal.

Judge Langridge recounted: “The respondent submits that the tribunal did not take into account aspects of the claimant’s own behaviour, including a threat by him to report the firm to the SRA for non-compliance with directions.”

But she found that all the arguments raised by McHale amounted to a repetition of points previously aired during the hearings, “and disclose no reasonable grounds on which the tribunal’s decisions could be varied or revoked”.

The judge concluded: “Having considered all the points made by the parties I am satisfied that there is no reasonable prospect of the original decisions being varied or revoked. Both the claimant’s and the respondent’s applications are refused.”

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