Employer Justified Retirement Age & discrimination

Advice  |   4 October 2021

Written by
Elliott Flockhart, Trainee Solicitor

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has held in Pitcher v University of Oxford and University of Oxford v Ewart, that an Employer Justified Retirement Age (‘EJRA’) does not necessarily result in unlawful age discrimination.

The University introduced the EJRA of 67 with ‘legitimate aims’ of inter-generational fairness, succession planning, and promoting equality and diversity. The central issue in both cases was the proportionality of compulsory retirement as a means of achieving the legitimate aims. The EJRA facilitated the legitimate aims by not delaying the creation of vacancies, whereby a younger candidate could be considered for senior roles. In Pitcher, the compulsory retirement of a History teacher was held to be justified age discrimination and a fair dismissal, and in Ewart, a Physics professor’s dismissal was discriminatory. In turn, the EAT recognised that two tribunals reaching different conclusions on the application of the EJRA is not desirable for any employer. Therefore, as contrasting outcomes may arise from the availability of different evidence, or even from an alternate focus on the evidence, this judgement can assist practitioners seeking to justify or challenge compulsory retirement.

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If you need assistance or advice on the contents of this article, please contact the Employment Team at Thackray Williams LLP 020 8290 0440.

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