• Posted

Our client, Professor John Pitcher, was a long‐standing employee of Saint John the Baptist College and the University of Oxford. His employment was terminated due to forced retirement when he reached the age of 67. This was the Employer Justified Retirement Age (EJRA) of the college and university: an age set by an employer at which employees are required to retire, based on the employer’s justification that there are legitimate business reasons for doing so.

The client claimed against his former employers for unfair dismissal and direct age discrimination. These claims were unsuccessful, so he appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT).

We advised the client on his appeal, which was heard jointly with the case of another employee, Professor Ewert (who had been successful in his claims for unfair dismissal and age discrimination against the University in relation to the implication of an almost identical EJRA policy). The Professor Ewert case has attracted significant publicity (see below).

The joint appeals by the client and the University were heard by the EAT in June 2021. In a judgment which attracted a lot of professional and public interest, the EAT decided to reject both appeals. This has led to concern that there is a lack of clarity around the future application of the EJRA and its fairness generally as there are now two conflicting decisions.

We applied for permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal, but this was refused.

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