Bookkeeper ‘retired’ by firm at 66 awarded €12,000

Woman took case against family-run retail business which believed setting parting age necessary

A bookkeeper who was ‘retired’ by her employer on reaching the age of 66 has been awarded €12,000 in an age discrimination case she took against a family run retail business. Image: iStock

A bookkeeper who was ‘retired’ by her employer on reaching the age of 66 has been awarded €12,000 in an age discrimination case she took against a family run retail business. Image: iStock

 

A bookkeeper who was “retired” by her employer on reaching the age of 66 has been awarded €12,000 in an age discrimination case she took against a family-run retail business.

The award was one of a number of similar rulings made by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) in cases where the employer had no employment contract in place to confirm that an employee would retire on reaching a certain age.

In her submission, the woman made it clear she had no contractual or other agreement that she would retire and that she wished to continue working.

She described a number of engagements with her employer between August 2015 and August of last year in the course of which she came to understand that it was expected she would retire initially on reaching her 65th birthday, and then again on turning 66.

Extension

The woman rejected the offer of re-engagement on a two-year contract as she said such a contract given to a co-worker previously had proven unreliable.

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

The business also said that a pension was created for the complainant in 2004 which clearly foresaw her retirement at the age of 65. It stated that it genuinely believed such a retirement age was necessary for the management of its business but it was willing to offer a fixed term extension.

In his ruling, WRC adjudication officer Pat Brady found that the termination of the woman’s employment was discriminatory and there had been a failure to provide any justification for it.

Mr Brady said 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.

He said that the employer had held the employee in high regard and there was no element of any reflection on her conduct or competence.

“However, this provides no defence whatsoever and is essentially a plea of ‘ignorance of the law,’” he said. “The attitude of bemused indignation that a person might have to be retained in their employment up to an indefinite age gave a good indication of how far such, in fairness widely held views, are off the mark in respect to the law relating to retirement age.”