The ECJ has held that a German law allowing compulsory retirement at 65 (state pension age) was justified age discrimination.
This case concerned a cleaner whose employment was automatically terminated when she was 65 in accordance with a collective agreement providing for compulsory retirement when employees reach pension age, or age 65 if later. She claimed that the termination of her employment was discriminatory on the grounds of age and challenged the German law that allowed automatic termination of employment at state pension age where this is agreed in a collective agreement.
The German court had doubts about the consistency of the clause on automatic termination with the principles of the EU as set out in the Equal Treatment Framework Directive (2000/78) and referred the issue to the ECJ.
The ECJ found that the aims of the German legislation (to share employment between generations and to avoid humiliating capability dismissals for older workers) were legitimate. Further, the means of achieving these aims, which ensured that automatic retirement was at the age at which state pension benefit became available and that the automatic termination provision had to be collectively agreed, were appropriate and necessary.
The ECJ went on to consider the collective agreement at issue. It found that the aims of facilitating employment for young people, planning recruitment and allowing good, age-appropriate, management of personnel were legitimate. The means of achieving these aims (the clause in the collective agreement for automatic termination of employment) were also appropriate and went no further than was necessary.
On this basis, the apparently directly discriminatory provision in German national law could be justified.
Rosenbladt -v- Ollerking Gebaudereinigungsges.mbH C45/09, 12 October 2010.