Age discrimination: objective justification

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has upheld an employment tribunal’s decision that, as at 31 December 2006, a law firm’s mandatory retirement age of 65 for partners was a proportionate means of achieving the legitimate aims of workforce planning and staff retention. The retirement age was objectively justified and did not amount to direct age discrimination against a partner who was required to retire on that date.

Whether an employer can justify mandatory retirement will still, to a large extent, depend on the nature of its business. Certain employers might be encouraged by the acceptance that the firm’s aims of retention and workforce planning could only be achieved by way of a mandatory retirement age, and that a range of retirement ages could potentially have been proportionate.