Addleshaw Goddard

UK 200 2014 position: 22

EAT holds that the mental processes of anyone influencing a decision maker should be taken into account

In Reynolds v CLFIS (UK) Ltd and others, the claimant alleged that the termination of her consultancy agreement was discriminatory on the grounds of age. The employment tribunal (ET) dismissed the claim on the basis that the person who took the decision to terminate did so on the basis of the claimant’s performance and this decision was not tainted by age discrimination. However, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) held that the ET was wrong to focus only on the mental processes of the decision maker in circumstances where it was common ground that other individuals had significantly influenced the decision. The ET should have examined the mental processes of those individuals as well.

When considering discrimination claims, ETs must assess what are the grounds for the treatment in question. Where the act itself is not inherently discriminatory, it can be rendered discriminatory by the conscious or unconscious motivations that led to the act.

In this case, the claimant, Dr Reynolds, had worked as the chief medical officer for the respondent under a consultancy agreement since 2006 (prior to this, she had been employed by the respondent for more than 20 years). In 2010, when the claimant was 73 years of age, the respondent’s UK general manager took the decision to terminate the consultancy agreement with the claimant, essentially on grounds of performance. The UK general manager reached this decision after he had listened to a presentation, delivered by two of the respondent’s employees, which had highlighted a number of deficiencies in the services provided by the claimant…

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