Sex discrimination case gives older men new rights

A
landmark employment ruling is set to give workers aged over 65 the right to
claim for unfair dismissal and redundancy payments at an Employment Tribunal.

The
decision has implications for hundreds of thousands of workers and their
employers, according to the legal team who took the case – Charles Russell and Islington
Law Centre.

The civil
case against the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry centred on two
people – Mr John Rutherford, 71, from Rainham in Essex, who was represented by
Paul Quain of Charles Russell; and Samuel Bentley, 74, from Islington, London,
represented by Anna Corrigan of Islington Law Centre.

The
two men were dismissed from their jobs in the clothing industry for being over
65, but until this ruling, were not allowed, because of their age, to bring
their cases to an Employment Tribunal to claim compensation for unfair
dismissal or to claim for redundancy payment.

The
lawyers argued that there were far more working men over 65 compared to women,
and therefore the cut-off point at 65 years discriminated against men.

On 23
August, Stratford Employment Tribunal in London, which had initially heard the
case in June and July this year, ruled that the two men had suffered indirect
sexual discrimination.

Quain
said: “This is an extremely important decision, especially as people over 65
are an increasingly significant part of the working population, and the
Government is trying to promote older workers in the workforce.

“The
lack of protection against unfair dismissal and redundancy hits twice as many
men as it does women, as there are twice as many working men over 65 compared
to women.

“This
ruling, if upheld, will give people working beyond retirement age new
employment rights and protection already enjoyed by younger workers.

“This
case is also important in another way as it will provide some clarity in the
law on how groups of people should be measured in indirect discrimination cases.”

The
case could now be reviewed by the European Court of Justice. The European
directive banning age discrimination comes into force in 2006.

By
Quentin Reade

 

 

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