Age Discrimination – applies equally to young and old!

Wed 27th Jan 2010

The European Court of Justice has handed down its decision in the interestingly named Kücükdeveci v Swedex GmbH & Co. This case was referred to the Court in respect of a German law which allowed employers when calculating an employee’s notice period, to disregard any years of service prior to their 25th birthday.

The European Court held:

  • The German legislation contained a difference of treatment on grounds of age.
  • It was a legitimate aim to afford employers greater flexibility in personnel management in respect of the dismissal of young workers, from whom it is reasonable to expect a greater degree of personal or occupational mobility.
  • However, the legislation adopted was not an appropriate means of achieving that aim, as the extension of the notice period was delayed for all employees who joined the Company before the age of 25, even those with long service at the date of dismissal.
  • The principle of non-discrimination on grounds of age must be interpreted as preventing such legislation being passed.
  • A national court faced with a national provision which it considers to be incompatible with the principle of non-discrimination on grounds of age must not uphold that law.

Our Employment specialist Emma Bramley, Head of the Employment Team commented:

“This important decision confirms the position which may have initially been misunderstood by employers. When the age discrimination legislation came into force in the UK it was a common misconception that it was designed to protect older employees in the workplace. In actual fact the legislation prevent discrimination on the ground of age in the event that you are 16 or 66.”

To contact the Employment Team at Coodes, call 01872 246200

Wed 27th Jan 2010

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