Woman Successfully Challenges An Post Discrimination in Retirement and Fixed-Term Contracts Case - IHREC - Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

Woman Successfully Challenges An Post Discrimination in Retirement and Fixed-Term Contracts Case

Commission Provides Legal Representation to Woman in Labour Court Appeal

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (the Commission) has welcomed An Post’s decision to withdraw its appeal from the Labour Court, in a case centred on discriminatory conditions in a fixed-term contract. The Commission provided legal representation to the woman in the Labour Court, to uphold her successful challenge, against her former employer An Post, in the Workplace Relations Commission (the WRC).

In March 2020, the WRC ruled in favour of the woman concluding that she had been discriminated against by An Post on the grounds of age and the termination of her employment. The WRC awarded the woman compensation of €18,000. An Post subsequently launched an appeal against the WRC ruling in the Labour Court.

The woman worked as a Postal Operative sorting and delivering post for over twenty years. On retirement age, at her request, the woman was granted a one-year contract extension on a month by month basis. Six months later, the woman was advised her contract was to be terminated with one month notice.

In its submissions to the Labour Court, the Commission argued that although furnishing a fixed term contract to an employee who has reached the mandatory retirement age is permitted under the Employment Equality Acts (the EEA), if objectively justified, the EEA does not permit differences in treatment on the grounds of age in the terms of the fixed term contract.

In February 2021, An Post withdrew its appeal from the Labour court and compensation, equivalent to six month pay, was paid to the woman.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has published guidance for employers and employees to seek to ensure that older workers, who wish to continue in employment, are not discriminated against in Irish workplaces. The WRC Adjudicating Officer in this case drew from the Commission’s guidance on Retirement and Fixed-Term contracts in the ruling.

The woman at the centre of the case stated:

To receive the justice that is deserved is a great feeling but it has been a long and arduous path to get here.

“I loved my job and the people I worked with. However, I consistently deemed the treatment I received from An Post regarding my retirement to be unjust and discriminatory based on my age. 

“I sincerely hope after this lengthy battle that An Post will ensure no staff member will have to endure this prejudice and that they will be provided with the opportunity to retire with dignity and pride.”

Sinéad Gibney Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission stated:

“People are working longer and age discrimination is a known threat, routinely highlighted to us by members of the public, and raised only last week in the Dáil.

“Age related discrimination in employment accounted for 11% of cases people contacted the Commission on under the Employment Equality Acts last year.

“We welcome the outcome for this woman who successfully vindicated her rights and in a broader sense has sent a clear signal to employers to be aware of their legal obligations.

“Our published guidelines clarify practical issues that arise from granting fixed-term contracts to employees who are over the compulsory retirement age, and explain how these issues may be addressed by both employers and employee.”

ENDS/

 

For further information, please contact:

Karen Joynt, IHREC

01 8589601 / 085 174 6883

Visit our website or follow us on twitter/Instagram/LinkedIn @_IHREC

 

Notes to Editor

The Commission’s guidance on Retirement and Fixed-Term Contracts is available at the following link: https://www.ihrec.ie/our-work/legal-activity/retirement-and-fixed-term-contracts-guidelines/

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.

Under its legal functions set out in the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014, the Commission can, in certain circumstances, provide legal assistance to a person who wishes to bring a matter of human rights or equality of treatment before the Courts or the Workplace Relations Commission.

Assistance under Section 40 of the Act means any or all of the following

  1. the provision, or the arranging for the provision of, legal advice to the applicant;
  2. the provision, or the arranging for the provision of, legal representation to the applicant
  3. the provision of such other assistance to the applicant as the Commission deems appropriate in the circumstances;

 

 

 

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