Rosderra Irish Meats Group ordered to pay compensation to worker retired at 65

Brendan Beirne was awarded €30,000 after the Workplace Relations Commission found discriminated against him under the Employment Equality Acts 1998
Rosderra Irish Meats Group ordered to pay compensation to worker retired at 65

Gordon Deegan

The country's largest pork processor, Rosderra Irish Meats Group, has been ordered to pay an ex-employee €30,000 compensation for forcing him to retire at the age of 65.

This follows Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) Adjudicator Shay Henry finding that Rosderra Irish Meats Group discriminated against Brendan Beirne on age grounds under the Employment Equality Acts 1998 by requiring Mr Beirne to resign on reaching 65.

In June 2019, Mr Beirne told his manager that he was seeking to work beyond his 65th birthday in August 2019 and was aware of other employees who had been afforded this facility.

Rosderra Irish Meats Group operates two state-of-the-art slaughtering and processing facilities at Edenderry, Co Offaly and Roscrea, Co Tipperary and Mr Beirne worked at the group's pork-curing facility in Jamestown Co Leitrim.

Mr Beirne stated that he had a good record with his employer and was fit and healthy and able to perform all his duties.

However, Rosderra Meats refused to allow Mr Beirne work beyond his 65th birthday.

In his findings, Mr Henry stated there is an obligation on the employer to present the employee making the request to work longer with the specific objective grounds why his or her request is being refused.

Mr Henry said that the employee should have the opportunity to test these arguments before a final decision is made.

He said that there is no evidence in this case that the objective grounds were presented to Mr Beirne in advance of the decision to refuse his request to work longer and therefore found that Mr Beirne was discriminated against.

Mr Henry said however that the objective grounds were put forward by Rosderra Meats at the WRC hearing.

Mr Henry stated he accepted the rationale put forward by Rosderra Meats underpinning the decision to allow certain employees work past 65 and that it was the norm in the company for employees to retire at 65.

Rosderra Meats told the WRC hearing that two workers cited by Mr Beirne, who worked beyond their 65th birthday, did so at the request of the firm as they had specialist skills.

The meat processor denied it had discriminated against Mr Beirne, who worked as a general operative.

The company said the retirement of employees at 65, including Mr Beirne, was objectively and necessarily required.

The company stated that it was justified to ensure consistency among all employees in relation to retirement; to create certainty in succession planning; to ensue cohesion in the workforce; to ensure a uniform retirement age; to ensure that there is an age balance in the workforce and; to free up jobs so that younger workers can enter to the workforce and younger workers have an opportunity for advancement/promotion.

Rosderra stated those aims are legitimate and justified aims and the means adopted by it to achieve those aims and objectives are both appropriate and necessary.

Rosderra submitted that the measure of adhering to retirement at age 65 serves a legitimate aim or purpose in terms of succession planning, intergenerational fairness and provision of the opportunity for advancement/promotion and in so doing, is both proportionate and objectively justified.

Rosderra stated it is its position that Mr Beirne was retired in line with the normal company-wide retirement age which is lawful within the provisions of Employment Equality Acts.

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