Law Firm Partner Age Discrimination Claim Fails

4th July 2014

Law Firm Partner Age Discrimination Claim Fails

image (61)

Professional firms that follow the traditional course of fixing a particular age at which their partners are given their gold watches and required to retire will be relieved to hear that the practice does not fall foul of the ban on age discrimination.

In the closely watched case of Seldon v Clarkson Wright & Jakes, the former managing partner of a law firm launched proceedings after he was required to retire at 65. His case had progressed all the way to the Supreme Court, which found that the firm’s practice was justified by the desirability of retaining associate partners, reasonable workforce planning and its wish to avoid challenging ageing partners over declining performance.

The sole question left open was whether the firm’s compulsory retirement age could lawfully be fixed at 65, rather than some higher age – say 68 or 70 – which would be perceived as less discriminatory. In rejecting the ex-partner’s case on that issue, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) found that the firm’s choice of 65 was sensible and proportionate.

The EAT ruled, consistently with decisions already reached by the superior courts, that the firm was pursuing legitimate aims when it required the man to retire. It was also relevant that he had consented to leave his post at 65 when he signed his partnership agreement and it had been legitimate for the firm to take into account the fact that the state retirement age was 65.

Comment

This decision is good news for employers that have held onto mandatory retirement ages but it is important to remember that every case turns on its own facts. Of particular significance to the EAT’s decision was the fact that at the time of Mr Seldon’s dismissal the state pension age was still 65 and there was a statutory default retirement age of 65 for employees (although not for partners). It remains the case therefore that employers wishing to use a mandatory retirement age must think very carefully about whether they can objectively justify it and look at the facts that apply to their own businesses.

Blog Posts

Unfair dismissal and permanent health insurance (PHI)

22/05/2019

Permanent health insurance (PHI) provides employees with pay during long term sickness or incapacity.…

Read More
Upcoming Events

Managing the workforce in 2019

03/04/2019

If you employ staff or have responsibility for HR, Gotelee Solicitor’s annual employment law…

Read More
News Posts

Employers must record all working time

16/05/2019

If you attended Gotelee’s Employment Law Update at Trinity Park last month you may…

Read More

Testimonials

"I don't think this house sale would have pulled together without Jo's determination and expertise. Excellent!"

- MT

"We found Rachel Dawson outstanding, polite, professional and caring."

-

"Domini was very fast and efficient in carrying out her work for me - she was also very good at explaining things to me"

-

"Approachable, very efficient, always willing to take my calls and update me."

- SH

"“ This is the second time we have used Tracey for the conveyancing to buy our new home. She is always completely approachable, she has helped us along the way with advice and useful tips that has helped lessen the stress. We have complete confidence in her and would not hesitate to recommend her to our friends and family”.  - Peter Dawes, Cater Dawes Financial Planning "

-

"The ease that we could access and speak to Pat Smith - Thank you"

-

"Prompt, helpful, polite and very professional service"

-

"Jade Shelton was absolutely fantastic!! Professional and proactive at all times."

- JH

"Jade made the process of buying our first home quick, easy and took the stress out of a new chapter of our lives"

-

"We were very pleased to have Jade as our solicitor, the service was excellent and we felt kept in the loop which minimised stress"

- CT

Please select preferred method of contact

* We will only contact you by telephone if you select this as primary form of contact. All web enquiries will be stored on our website for 30 days.