This summary of age discrimination law in Panama has been prepared by Arosemena Noriega & Contreras, the Ius Laboris member for Panama: www.arnoco.com
Protection from discrimination is enshrined within the constitution of Panama. Article 67 of the Political Constitution of Panama, states:
“Equal wages and pay shall always apply to equal work performed under identical conditions, irrespective of the person who performs it, without distinction as to sex, nationality, age, race, social class, or political or religious ideas”.
This protection has been built upon by Article 1 of Law 11 of 22nd April 2005 which stipulates:
“Labour discrimination is prohibited by means of race, birth, disability, social class, sex, religion or political views.”
Age is not a protected ground within this law and there are no additional legal provisions regarding age discrimination. The only legal protection is therefore contained within the constitution.
Constitutional and legal provisions only cover employees and do not extend to self-employed or agency workers.
What enforcement/remedies exist?
There are no criminal sanctions. An employee that suffers a violation of his/her constitutional and legal rights can seek legal protection from the Competent Courts.
Violations to Article 1 of Law 11 of 22nd April 2005 are subject to fines imposed by the Ministry of Labour ranging from US$500 to US$1000.
What claims are most common and what are trickiest issues for employers?
Claims involving sex discrimination are more common than claims for age discrimination. That said, all claims for discrimination are rare.
In Panama, employees cannot be dismissed for a reason which does not fall within any of the justified causes contained in the Labour Code. As stated above, age is not a protected ground and so a dismissal based on age is not a justified cause.
However, the granting of a retirement pension by the Social Security Fund does represent a justified cause for dismissal, provided that the employee receives the respective pension in the month following the dismissal. In this respects, an employer can force an employee to retire upon reaching pensionable age.
Are there any specific exceptions in your laws?
There are no exceptions.
In Panama, the retirement age for women is 57 years of age and 62 years of age for men.