Old men grumpy over Appeal Court ruling on rights

Two
men fighting for employment rights for older workers are waiting to consider
their next step after the Court of Appeal today turned down their case.

John
Rutherford, 72, and Samuel Bentley, 76, had initially won their case at
Stratford Employment Tribunal, London,
which effectively gave thousands of people working beyond retirement age
employment rights for the first time. However, the secretary of state for trade
and industry went to the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT), which overturned
the first tribunal’s decision.

Rutherford
and Bentley were given leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal and Lord Justice
Mummery, Lord Justice Potter and Lord Justice Scott Baker heard their case in
March. Many other similar cases have been put on hold pending the outcome of
this case.

Paul
Quain, of law firm Charles
Russell’s employment and pensions group, who represented Rutherford,
said: "Naturally, we are disappointed at this decision, but we have
long-prepared for this situation. We believe we have a strong case and we now
have the option of taking this to the House of Lords or European Court of
Justice.

"Judges
who have considered this case before have raised the issue of the compatibility
of this country’s law with that of the European Union," he said.

The
two men 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 payments.

When
the case was first heard in June 2002, the legal teams argued that there were
twice as many men as women over 65 who worked, and therefore the retirement
cut-off point at 65 years discriminated against men.

That
August, the tribunal ruled that the two men had suffered indirect sexual
discrimination on the grounds that more men than women worked beyond retirement
age. The EAT overturned that decision on 2 October 2003.

Quentin Reade

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