Supreme Court issues age discrimination decision
The Supreme Court judgment in the retirement case of Seldon v Clarkson Wright and Jakes was issued this morning.
Mr Seldon, a partner in a firm of solicitors, was compulsorily retired following his 65th birthday and brought a claim of unlawful direct age discrimination. As he was a partner rather than an employee, he was not subject to the now repealed default retirement age of 65. The Supreme Court decided that the rule requiring partners to retire at 65 pursued the legitimate public policy aims of (1) staff retention (by providing associates with promotion opportunities); (2) facilitating workforce planning; and (3) limiting the need to expel partners by way of performance management. The case will now return to the tribunal to decide whether the choice of a retirement age of 65 was a proportionate means of achieving these legitimate aims.
The Supreme Court commented that employers will need to be able to justify the application of potentially legitimate aims to the particular circumstances of their own business and that “all businesses will now have to give careful consideration to what, if any, mandatory retirement rules can be justified”.