A bank’s dismissal of elderly employees was not age discrimination

Date 16 dec. 2008
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Introduction

On 26 November 2008, the Copenhagen City Court ruled in a case concerning a bank’s dismissal of 3 elderly employees older than 50 years of age.

The case in brief

In connection with a bank’s decision to make certain branches cashless, three female employees aged 52, 61 and 62, respectively, were given the choice between a new position in the bank or accepting a special retirement agreement. The three employees chose to retire from their positions.

 

During the same period of time, several employees chose to leave the bank to work for another bank in the same area. Subsequently, the bank engaged two younger employees and, furthermore, some time passed before the bank became cashless.

 

The Danish Financial Services Union (Finansforbundet), took the bank to court claiming that it had dismissed the employees based on their age.

 

Rules applying to differential treatment

Pursuant to Section 2(1) of Consolidation Act no. 31 of 12 January 2005 on prohibition of differential treatment on the labour market, an employer may not, at the engagement, dismissal, transferring or promotion of wage-earners or applicants for job vacancies, discriminate against these. The same applies when it comes to payment and working conditions.

 

 The decision of the Copenhagen City Court

The court dismissed the assertion that the dismissals were based on age. The court determined that the answer to the question of whether the dismissals were to be considered age discrimination should be found at the time of the dismissal of the three employees. Furthermore, the court attached importance to the fact that the competition situation had changed after the dismissal of the three employees because of the opening of another bank in the same area, for which reason the bank had postponed its plans to become a cashless bank. Moreover, the retirement of several employees had made it necessary for the bank to engage new employees. Therefore, the bank’s decision was based on objective reasons at the time of the dismissals.

 

The ruling demonstrates that the dismissal of elderly employees is not in itself sufficient to constitute age discrimination in that the actual circumstances of the dismissal may entail that the prohibition against age discrimination has not been violated.

 

If you have questions regarding the above or require additional information differential treatment on the labour market, please contact attorney Dan Moalem (dmo@mwblaw.dk) or attorney Christina Lund (clu@mwblaw.dk).

 

The above does not constitute legal counselling, and Moalem Weitemeyer Bendtsen does not warrant the accuracy of the information. With the above text, Moalem Weitemeyer Bendtsen has not assumed responsibility of any kind as a consequence of a reader’s use of the above as a basis of decisions or considerations.