A senior solicitor has won an age discrimination claim after being rejected for a job at a law firm because he was “expensive”, a tribunal has ruled.
The tribunal ruled that “expensive” was in fact “synonymous with his being an experienced and older solicitor”, and that the firm changed the job requirements to suit a more junior solicitor after it had deemed the candidate to be unsuitable.
During the interview, the candidate was told that the firm wanted to replace a senior associate within the commercial property team, and that the work was “piling up” as the firm was in the middle of a complex project for a client
The tribunal heard evidence that the departing associate’s salary was £42,000. The candidate asked for around £50,000 for the first three months and offered to work on a self-employed consultancy basis afterwards. At the interview he was offered a start date of “next Monday”, but told that the decision was subject to a meeting between the heads of departments.
He then received an email turning him down, stating that the firm had assessed the role’s requirements at the board meeting and decided to aim for a more junior solicitor “with three-to-five years’ PQE” whom they could “mould… to our specific requirements”.
The tribunal concluded that the claimant met all the required qualifications for the role and, had his application gone further, he would have likely been offered the job. It was only after he was deemed “expensive” that the firm decided to change the requirements of the role, and therefore he was a victim of age discrimination.