Seldon v Clarkson Wright & Jakes: Tribunal rules on long-running age discrimination case
Employment solicitor, Nathalie Stewart, takes a look at the final decision in the long-running age discrimination case of Seldon v Clarkson Wright & Jakes.
This case has been ongoing for some time and has been to the Supreme Court and back.
In 2006, Mr Seldon asked to resign when he reached 65 – this was a provision in the firm’s Partnership Deed. He wanted to continue working but the firm rejected his requests. He issued proceedings and claimed that his mandatory retirement had been direct age discrimination.
It was held, finally, that the firm's mandatory retirement age of 65 was appropriate and reasonably necessary for the achievement of the legitimate aims of retention and planning. While the firm’s actions were discriminatory, unlike other forms of direct discrimination, direct age discrimination can be objectively justified. In this case, the employer showed the retirement age was a ‘proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.’
What this means for you
While each case is fact specific, it must be remembered that in 2006 there was a default retirement age of 65 in place. The Tribunal acknowledged the outcome of this claim could have been different if Mr Seldon had retired after April 2011 when the default retirement age was abolished.
If you wish to justify a fixed retirement age, you must be able to show you have clear business reasons for doing so. You must also document the process followed and the rationale behind the decision reached to ensure you're protected.
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