Employment Article – Age Discrimination case of TV star

John McCririck is a well known, flamboyant, tv personality. As known now for his exploits on reality shows such as Celebrity Big Brother and Celebrity Wife Swap as he was for his role as a pundit and expert for coverage of racing on Channel 4.

He has been in the newspapers and the news more recently for his claim of age discrimination in the Employment Tribunal. He argued that the decision to terminate his employment and replace him on Channel 4s rebranded racing coverage with Clare Balding was an act of direct age discrimination. The judgment in this case was made by a Judge at London Central Employment Tribunal last week and the outcome was not successful for Mr McCririck.

In a 44 page judgment, Mr McCriricks history in racing and tv punditry as well as on other tv appearances was discussed in detail, as was the rebranding of the racing coverage on channel 4 and the aims of this. It would be a crucial point in the conclusions of the Tribunal that Channel 4 wanted its coverage to appeal to a wider and potentially younger audience.

In particular Mr McCririck argued that the decision to remove him from coverage and not a younger colleague and that all those dismissed in the rebranding were over 50 were acts of unfavourable treatment on the grounds of his age. The Tribunal agreed with him.

It may seem from that, that this was good for Mr McCririck.

However, the Employment Tribunal were then obliged to consider whether Channel 4 had treated him proportionately in this way in order to achieve a legitimate aim. In curiously brief considerations on this point the Employment Tribunal found that the aim of appealing to a wider TV audience was a legitimate aim of Channel 4 and therefore it was proportionate to act as they did towards Mr McCririck.

His claim therefore did not succeed. Whether Mr McCririck now appeals the decision waits to be seen. He has 42 days to do so if he so intends.

It is interesting to note that in a claim of ‘direct discrimination’ it is only unfavourable treatment on the grounds of age that can be justified in this way by an employer. An employer can’t justify unfavourable treatment on the grounds of disability, sex, race or religion for example in the same way.

Our employment lawyers specialise in discrimination claims. For more advice contact our employment and discrimination teams.