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Mandatory Retirement for Pilots Not Discriminatory
December 5, 2007

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has dismissed the human rights complaints of two former pilots who were required to retire at age 60 under Air Canada’s mandatory retirement policy.

The Tribunal found the policy was not discriminatory because it fell within the provision in the Canadian Human Rights Act that allows employers to require employees to retire at the “normal age of retirement” for their profession or occupation. The Tribunal heard evidence that at the time of the complaint about 80% of pilots working for international airlines were required to retire at 60 and the International Civil Aviation Organization recommended that 60 be the maximum age for pilots.

The Tribunal rejected the pilots’ argument that the section of the Act that allowed mandatory retirement at the “normal age of retirement” breached their equality rights under section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Tribunal concluded:

  • The policy was not based on negative age-related stereotyping, like age-related incompetence. Instead, mandatory retirement was the “fully understood and anticipated conclusion of a prestigious and financially rewarding career”; and
  • The Union had agreed to the mandatory retirement provision in exchange for a “rich compensation package.” In reaping the benefits of mandatory retirement as younger employees, the Tribunal said, the retirees must also bear the burden of the policy as they get older.

Vilven v. Air Canada (No. 3), 2007 CHRT 36.