Law firm ‘compulsorily retired’ woman (67), WRC rules

‘Terminating someone’s employment, on the basis of age, is discriminatory,’ commission says

The WRC found  the woman was dismissed on age grounds as her  dismissal letter shows she was not dismissed for poor performance.  Photograph: Alan Betson

The WRC found the woman was dismissed on age grounds as her dismissal letter shows she was not dismissed for poor performance. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

A solicitor’s firm has been ordered to pay €25,680 to a 68 year-old woman after she was ‘compulsorily retired’.

Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) Adjudication Officer, Emile Daly found the main reason for the firm dismissing the firm’s legal secretary of 40 years service was because she was then aged 67 years of age.

“There are 70 and 80-year olds within the labour force who are more productive, able and capable of change than some 20-year olds,” Ms Daly said.

“Terminating someone’s employment, on the basis of age, is discriminatory which, unless it is objectively justified, is unlawful.”

Ms Daly said the woman was dismissed on age grounds as her dismissal letter shows she was not dismissed for poor performance. Ms Daly said the first time the worker heard a criticism of her work by her employer was at the WRC adjudication hearing.

Ms Daly awarded the woman €24,000 for the age-based discriminatory dismissal, €840 for unpaid holiday pay and €840 for not being provided her terms and conditions.

The woman was dismissed on January 4th, 2018 - two years after the practice was transferred to a new solicitor.

The hearing was told the woman - who celebrated her 67th birthday in December 2017 - said she did not want to retire.

The woman stated that before she was given her notice in January 2018 her work was not criticised nor was she led to believe it was anything other than acceptable.

In response, the legal firm alleged at the WRC hearing her work was below par and this had a detrimental impact on the business.

The firm said they did not criticise her work while she was employed out of respect for the woman, who had performed her duties loyally over 40 years.