A group of 70 British Airways (BA) cabin crew and pilots is considering whether to appeal against a decision by an Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) that its members had suffered ‘lawful’ discrimination.
The group says it wants the employer’s retirement age of 60, which is enjoyed by those BA employees who were employed before 1971, to apply to all employees at BA. Cabin crew employed after 1971 have to retire at 55.
The group argued that the retirement age constitutes sex discrimination because more women than men are affected.
The EAT upheld an earlier tribunal decision that the women in the group had suffered discrimination, but that this was lawful, on the grounds that the cost of changing BA’s policy would have been too high.
Paul Quain, of the Charles Russell Employment and Pensions Group, which is representing the group, said: “The EAT agreed that women in the group had suffered discrimination, but it held that this can be justified if the costs of remedying it would have an adverse impact on other areas of the business.
“In practice, this means there is an inequality between private sector and public sector workers: in the public sector, cost cannot be a justification for age discrimination. We believe this is against the spirit of EU law.”
In a separate case, a BA pilot who was refused the right to work part-time to look after her baby won her sex discrimination case.