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Case law: Forcible retirement was not a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim

Employers risk claims age discrimination of if they retire employees by relying on a provision, criteria or practice (PCP) without a legitimate aim, or if the PCP is not a proportionate means of achieving that aim.

Legal Alert

This update was published in Legal Alert - June 2014

Legal Alert is a monthly checklist from Atom Content Marketing highlighting new and pending laws, regulations, codes of practice and rulings that could have an impact on your business.

The Employment Tribunal (ET) has ruled that an employer who forced employees of a certain age to retire was pursuing a legitimate aim - but its actions were not necessary or proportionate and were therefore discriminatory.

A police authority exercised its powers under rules governing police pensions allowing it to force officers to retire if they are entitled to a particular level of pension, and it is in the general interests of efficiency. Under the rules, only officers aged 48 or older can be forcibly retired.

The officers concerned claimed indirect age discrimination, arguing this was a practice that placed older officers at a substantial disadvantage and was therefore discriminatory. It could not be objectively justified as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

Although one of the reasons for retiring the officers was cost, the authority also believed it would maintain an effective and efficient police force. The ET ruled this was a legitimate aim, but that forcibly retiring these officers wasn’t a proportionate means of achieving that aim. It found 80 to 95 per cent of the officers would have retired anyway, so the cost savings from forcibly retiring officers was ‘modest’, and the practice had a severe detrimental effect on those who would not have retired voluntarily. It also found there were several alternatives that could have achieved the same aim without being discriminatory.

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