Older workers to take case to the House of Lords

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 were 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. European Union legislation on age discrimination does not become law until 2006.

The two men 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, which overturned that 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, which is representing Rutherford, said: “We are pleased the House of Lords is willing to hear this case. We believe we have a strong case that raises important questions about the way we treat older workers.”

Last year, Quain told Personnel Today’s sister publication Employers’ Law that the case could well end up at the European Court of Justice.

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