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No More Mandatory Retirement for Federal Employers?
September 8, 2009

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal recently determined that a policy requiring airline pilots to retire at age 60 was discriminatory and that the section of the Canadian Human Rights Act allowing for a “normal retirement age” was contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Two Air Canada pilots filed Human Rights Complaints after they were forced to retire from flying at age 60. After the Tribunal dismissed their complaints, finding that age 60 was the “normal retirement age” for pilots, the decision was overturned by the Federal Court and remitted back to the Tribunal. The Tribunal then determined that the pilots were discriminated against based on age and that Air Canada had failed to discharge its duty to accommodate them.

The Tribunal did not order a remedy, remitting the issue back to the parties for further evidence and submissions. The effect of this decision is that mandatory retirement for pilots at age 60 is no longer lawful. We may now see older pilots at the helm of aircraft across Canada.

This decision also impacts other federally-regulated employers who have mandatory retirement policies. The Tribunal’s decision that section 15(1)(c) of the Canadian Human Rights Act violates the Charter will likely affect the validity of other mandatory retirement policies.

Vilven and Kelly v. Air Canada, 2009 CHRT 24