Oxford professor sues university for £102,000 in loss of earnings after telling tribunal he was forced to retire to help boost 'diversity'

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Oxford professor sues university for £102,000 in loss of earnings after telling tribunal he was forced to retire to help boost 'diversity'

Post by Didge on Sun Aug 19, 2018 4:41 pm

A top Oxford University professor was forced to retire by college bosses in favour of diversity, an employment tribunal heard.

Professor John Pitcher wanted to carry on working as an English tutor and official fellow, but was told he would have to retire at 67 to help promote the university's 'diversity'. A specialist in Shakespeare, Elizabethan and Jacobean literature and poetry, he had worked at the prestigious St John's The Baptist College in the University of Oxford for more than 36 years.

In December 2012 a retirement date was set for September 30, 2016, but Professor Pitcher was then made a Founder's Fellow on a fixed term from 2014 to 2020.

But Professor Pitcher, now 69, claims he was 'forcibly retired' on that date after the university and college applied a Employment Justified Retirement Age (EJRA) policy.

The college said the retirement was to 'safeguard the high standards' of the the university as well as 'inter-generational fairness' and to 'refresh the workforce'.

'Succession planning' and 'diversity' were also used to justify the move, an employment tribunal heard.

EJRAs were introduced after the default retirement age was scraped by the government in 2010.

The head of division at the university wrote to Professor Pritcher in 2014 with a notice of intended retirement date, and that it could be extended under EJRA.

A university panel met on January 26, 2016, and he was written to two month later stating his employment would not be extended to September 2020.

He appealed against that decision in March 2016, but that was rejected and a formal grievance was lodged.

A colleague at the university, Professor Denis Galligan, successfully challenged the EJRA principle at the appeal court, in which the university panel was heavily criticised.


Human beings are born with different capacities. If they are free, they are not equal. And if they are equal, they are not free.

-- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

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