The House of Lords has confirmed that it will hear the appeal of two men fighting for older workers to have employment rights.
John Rutherford and Samuel Bentley had been dismissed from their jobs in the clothing industry as they were over 65, but the law did not allow them to bring their cases to an employment tribunal to claim compensation for unfair dismissal or to claim for redundancy payment.
They had initially won their case at an employment tribunal, which effectively gave thousands of people working beyond retirement age employment rights for the first time.
However, Patricia Hewitt, the secretary of state for trade and industry, went to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT), which overturned the first tribunal’s decision.
In 2004, the two men failed in their attempt to get this decision overturned in the Court of Appeal.
Paul Quain of law firm Charles Russell’s employment and pensions group, who is representing Rutherford, said: “We are pleased that the House of Lords is willing to hear this case.
“The House of Lords only hears appeals if the case involves a ‘point of law of general public importance’ that it ought to consider. We believe we have a strong case that raises important questions about the way we treat older workers.”
Last year, Rutherford told Personnel Today’s sister publication Employers’ Law that the case could well end up at the European Court of Justice.
Until the UK implements the age discrimination strand of the EU Directive on Equal Treatment in October 2006, age discrimination per se is not outlawed in the UK.