The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has ruled that the forced retirement of a 67 year old woman by her employer amounted to discrimination on the grounds of age.
The applicant worked as a secretary in a law firm for 40 years and, upon turning 67 in December 2017, she was informed that she was to be dismissed in January 2018. When she was issued with her notice, she informed her employer that she did not wish to retire. She did not receive a warning, the quality of her work was not criticised and there appeared to be no apparent or valid reason for which she was dismissed.
A complaint was made to the WRC, where the adjudicator Ms Emily Daly found that the applicant’s dismissal amounted to age discrimination, determining that she had been ‘compulsory retired.’ There is no statutory retirement age in Ireland, and it is illegal under the Employment Equality Acts to discriminate against an employee due to their age.
During the hearing, her employer attested that her dismissal was a result of her poor standard of work which was having a detrimental impact on the firm. However, Ms. Daly concluded that the applicant had been dismissed because of her age as her notice of termination of employment did not indicate that she had been let go due to any performance related issues.
Questions about her performance were first raised during the hearing and at no point prior, with her employer claiming they did not wish to disrespect her due to her loyalty to the firm during the course of her employment.
Ms. Daly stated that “terminating someone’s employment, on the basis of age, is discriminatory which, unless it is objectively justified, is unlawful”. The applicant was awarded €24,000 in compensation for the discriminatory dismissal, with an additional €1,680 for unpaid holiday pay and for not being provided with her terms and conditions.
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