The Arts Council of Northern Ireland recently paid out £12,000 to their own Chief Executive to settle her claims of age discrimination and victimisation without admission of liability.  

The post-holder had been in situ since 2000. In January 2017, she applied for flexible retirement – that is, to reduce her working week from five days to four with effect from April 2017.

The Arts Council, rather than address this request, enquired with the post-holder, on several occasions, as to her retirement plans.

This gave rise to gossip within the organisation which the post-holder felt undermined her position and prompted her to engage the internal grievance procedures.  Discrimination proceedings were also lodged.  

An internal panel upheld the grievance and the post-holder commenced her flexible retirement in September 2017. 

A spokesman for the Equality Commission said:  

In settling the case, the Arts Council has acknowledged and regrets the
hurt and injury to feelings [and] …has reaffirmed its commitment to the
principle of equality of opportunity in employment…

This settlement is not ground-breaking, or at least it shouldn’t be: the default retirement age having been done away with in 2011.

What steps has your business taken to insulate itself against claims like this one?

By Paul Sullivan FRSA

Creating unique, engaging content for your law firm clients