€12k for being ‘retired’ by employer at age 66

A book-keeper who was ‘retired’ by her employer on reaching the age of 66 has been awarded €12,000 in an age discrimination case.

In a ruling by the Workplace Relations Commission, a family-run retail business was directed to pay the woman after her employment ended when she turned 66.

The award is one of a number of similar rulings made by the WRC where the employer had no employment contract in place to confirm the employee will retire at a certain age.

In her submission to the WRC, the woman described a number of engagements with her employer between August 2015 and August 2016, in the course of which she was given to understand it was expected she would retire, initially on reaching her 65th birthday and then her 66th birthday.

She made it clear she had no contractual or other agreement to retire and wished to continue working.

The woman rejected the offer of re-engagement on the basis of a two-year contract because such a contract given to a co-worker on a previous occasion proved to be unreliable.

In its submission, the employer believed that it had an oral contract with the woman and an implied term of the woman’s contract of employment was she would retire at 65.

The business argued the termination of employment was effected on that basis and not on the grounds of age. It also pointed out a pension was created for the complainant in 2004.

The employer said it was genuinely believed such a retirement age was necessary for the management of its business but it had been willing to offer a fixed term extension.

In the WRC ruling, adjudication officer Pat Brady found the termination was discriminatory. The only justification offered was the employer’s “somewhat vague, anachronistic, and unlawful view” that it had the right to terminate employment at 65 because it was traditional to do so.

“However, this provides no defence whatsoever and is essentially a plea of ignorance of the law,” said Mr Brady.


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