May Employers Give the Order: "Off to Retirement!"

When you have turned 65, still feel young enough to work, and still want to work, can it be that your employer gives you the order "Off to retirement!"? After going through the whole hierarchy of domestic labor courts, this question was brought to ECJ. This court correctly worded the order if or if not "off to retirement" with its judgment of October 12, 10 2010 (re C-45/09).


This case is about a cleaning woman who had worked for over 39 years in barracks in Hamburg-Blankenese and had lastly a part-time job for €307 monthly. As she turned 65 and so reached retirement age, her employer did not want to continue employment. This lady considered this as a violation of anti-discrimination law. The Act on General Equal Treatment (AGG) aims on preventing discrimination on grounds of sex, sexual orientation, race - and also age.

The European Court of Justice saw no discrimination in the fact of firing an elderly person, when he or she has reached the age of retirement. Employers may deny a further employment and this with good right. Stipulations in individual contracts and tariff contracts are absolutely valid - unless something else has been agreed.

The judges considered that such stipulations are a part of labor law for a long time and are really common. Such regulation give both the employer as well as employee security in planning. Any provisions on dismissal law are not applicable because the contract provides its end when the employee reaches retirement age.

Even when discrimination were to be seen, then it would be justified. The stipulation "contract ends upon reaching the age of retirement" is justified by political, economical, social and demographic reasons.


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