BA air crew to challenge age discrimination laws

landmark case could change UK law on age discrimination far before an EU
directive bans the practice in 2006.

the case, currently before the Watford Employment Tribunal, a group of 70
British Airways pilots and cabin crew claim the airline’s retirement age of 55
constitutes discrimination.

group, some of whom worked for British Caledonian when it was taken over by BA
in 1988, wants the original em-ployer’s retirement age of 60 to continue to
apply to all employees at the airline.

pilots or cabin crew employed after 1971, including those originally with
British Caledonian, have to retire at 55, while the retirement age of anyone
employed before 1971 is 60. It is claimed that the policy affects 13,500 staff.

the pilots, Paul Quain, of City law firm Charles Russell’s Employment and
Pensions Unit, said the group wants the retirement age at BA to be extended to
60, in line with many other airlines.

case again highlights the fact that age discrimination in the UK is not
illegal, and that when the EU directive eventually comes into force in 2006, it
will not apply to people who have suffered age discrimination before that
date," he said.

Nicholas Underhill, QC, representing BA, said: "It is extremely expensive
to unscramble a deal made in 1971 É the ultimate cost is more than £100m."

case is expected to conclude on Friday.

Meanwhile, older NHS nurses also claim they face ageism from managers, despite
the chronic shortages of qualified staff and an ageing workforce.

poll by recruitment firm Celsian of nurses over 35, found almost two-thirds
felt they would be unlikely to progress into a senior role beyond the age of

Quentin Reade

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