Frontline Credit Union Worker Who Had to Retire at 65 is Awarded €25,000

The frontline credit union employee, a Teller, has been awarded €25,000 following a claim to the WRC for discrimination on the grounds of age when she had to retire from her job at 65 despite her request to continue working.

Employee Sought to Stay on After 65

The employee worked as a Teller for 21 years.

In November 2020, she spoke with her manager and sought to stay on after she reached 65 years of age. She said he told her he would take care of it and find out information from the Board for her.

He stated that he advised the employee to submit a request in writing to the Board.

On 23 February 2021, the complainant was told her contract would not be extended.

On 16 March 2021, she received a letter confirming that the Board of Directors had unanimously agreed not to extend her contract.

Her appeal was rejected on 28 April 2021.

RESTROSPECTIVE JUSTIFCATION by the Credit Union

The WRC Adjudicator accepted that a contractual retirement age of 65 formed part of the complainant’s terms and conditions of employment, however, this was qualified by the clause that provided for an extension beyond the age of 65 by mutual consent.

In declining the employee’s application to continue in employment the credit union relied upon the Board having “a staff structure and succession plan in place”.

The credit union expanded the reasons for justification to include intergenerational fairness and recruitment in their submission to the WRC, the WRC Adjudicator said this was done to provide “retrospective justification for the negative response” to the complainant’s extension request.

She observed that no retirement plan was in place at the time of Ms Toland’s application for an extension.

The employee stated that another employee was allowed to continue in her employment into late 70’s. The credit union did not suggest otherwise.

‘NOT LEGITIMATE’

The WRC Adjudicator said that no compelling reason had been advanced by the credit union to explain how an extension of the employee’s employment would impact negatively or otherwise on succession planning.

Additionally, she found no evidence to explain how retaining the employee would have adversely affected the staff structure or impeded progression for any staff.

The credit union recruited additional staff the year following the employee’s retirement.

The WRC Adjudicator did not accept that any of the initial justifications advanced by the credit union were legitimate. She said the Board meeting minutes reveal that no alternatives to terminating the employee’s contract were explored.

The WRC Adjudicator noted that the complainant should have been given adequate advance notice of her retirement and an opportunity to test the justifications advanced by the employer.

Additionally, the WRC Adjudicator noted that the employee was not afforded access to a proper appeals process – in this case she appealed to the same body that made the original decision.

The WRC Adjudicator concluded that the employee was discriminated against on age grounds and awarded her €25,000.