John McCririck Loses Age Discrimination Case

Pundit Describes Ruling In Relation To Channel 4 Case As ‘Historic Setback’

14.11.2013

Television personality and racing expert John McCririck has described his loss in an employment tribunal related to age discrimination as a “historic setback” for employees between 30 and 70.

A hearing before the Central London Employment Tribunal panel ruled against the 73-year-old pundit in relation to his claim against production company IMG Media Ltd and Channel 4 that he was removed from the channel’s racing coverage due to his age.

Both of the firms denied discrimination and, speaking following the verdict, McCririck said the decision means “anonymous suits and skirts” would “enjoy complete freedom to replace older employees whatever their unimpaired ability and merit”.

He added: “I have let them all down along with my wife, the Booby, my legal team, friends, colleagues and countless members of the public who supported me throughout. My grateful thanks and apologies to every one of them.”

McCririck added that his legal team is now reviewing the judgment in detail.

Expert Opinion
This high-profile case reinforces the key concept that when an employee can point to age as being a material factor in their dismissal or another issue in the workplace, an employer looking to avoid a successful claim for damages must be able to demonstrate that such an act was either not ‘age-related’ or that it was a ‘proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim’.

"In the McCririck case, the Tribunal was satisfied that the discriminatory treatment in question was a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim – with that specific aim being to bring horse racing to a wider audience.

"The Tribunal said that McCririck’s ‘pantomime persona, as demonstrated on the celebrity television appearances, and his persona when appearing on Channel 4 Racing, together with his self described bigoted and male chauvinist views were clearly unpalatable to a wider potential audience’.

"The Tribunal was also satisfied that the means adopted to achieve that aim in this instance were proportionate. This was because engaging McCririck as a celebrity presenter on coverage of major horse racing events such as Royal Ascot would be counterproductive, particularly as it was these major events that Channel 4 wanted to attract new viewers to.

"Finally McCririck’s observation that this is a ‘historic setback’ for employees between 30 and 70, seems somewhat fanciful because this probably represents 85 per cent of the working population."
Glenn Hayes, Partner