The EAT has recently upheld a decision that a law firm’s compulsory retirement age was not discriminatory.
Mr Seldon, a partner in a law firm who retired him at age 65 as per his partnership deed challenged this at the employment tribunal. His case failed as the respondent was able to justify its chosen mandatory retirement age.
Whether direct age discrimination is a ‘proportionate means of achieving a legitimate’ aim will always be a highly fact sensitive exercise and it must be remembered that the case of Seldon was decided in 2006, at a time when the DRA was still in place This played an important part in the tribunal’s original decision, notwithstanding the fact that the DRA was not directly applicable to ‘partners’. The abolition of the DRA in 2011, and the raising of the retirement ages in general, means that it is now less likely that a retirement age of 65 will be justifiable in future. Nonetheless, employers will be heartened by the further clarity provided by this decision and the fact that in some circumstances a set retirement age can still be justifiable.
Read our overview of the case here.