Magazine article European Social Policy

Age Discrimination : Ecj Clarifies Rules on Difference of Treatment Based on Age

Magazine article European Social Policy

Age Discrimination : Ecj Clarifies Rules on Difference of Treatment Based on Age

Article excerpt

The EU's blanket ban on discriminationaon grounds of age in the field of employment and occupation, provided for in Directive 2000/78, "does not preclude national measures which are necessary for the protection of health," says a ruling by the EU Court of Justice delivered on 12 January(1). Such national measures are "not discrimination" and therefore "not prohibited".

According to the court, it is thus legal for an EU member state to set a maximum recruitment age of 30 for firefighters who are directly involved in fighting fires. Similarly, a member state may decide to set a forced retirement age of 68 for dentists whose patients can get the costs reimbursed by national statutory social security schemes (known as panel dentists' in Germany) if this is deemed an "appropriate" response to the objective of protection of public health or employment policy.

The ECJ argues that a difference of treatment based on age is allowed in those cases where "because of the nature of an occupational activity or the context in which it is carried out, that characteristic constitutes a genuine and determining occupational requirement". It is also accepted, says the ECJ, when a difference of treatment on grounds of age is "necessary" for the protection of health or "if it is justified by a legitimate aim, including employment policy, labour market and vocational training objectives".

THE CASES

German citizen Colin Wolf brought his case before the court of Frankfurt am Main after he got rejected for a job in the fire service on grounds of his age - he was going on 31 when his recruitment was due. …

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