Was Air Canada wrong to force pilots to retire?

Long-running battle over mandatory retirement age of 60 is set to get a fresh hearing

Was Air Canada wrong to force pilots to retire?
A long-running and complex battle between Air Canada and former pilots who were forced to retire at 60 is set to be revisited by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

In a ruling last week, the tribunal said it will hold a new hearing into whether the national carrier discriminated against dozens of pilots by making them retire at an age that Air Canada deemed to be the industry norm.

The tribunal has previously ruled on two cases, involving separate groups of pilots, which were later reviewed by courts and dismissed by the Federal Court of Appeal, the Canadian Press reports.

In his decision last week, tribunal member David Thomas noted that the Federal Court of Appeal had determined that “60 was the normal age of retirement for pilots working for Canadian airlines in similar positions to the complainants in the years 2005-2009”.

However, he said that a group of pilots who retired after that period had not yet had the opportunity to test their case.

The respondents to the case, Air Canada and the Air Canada Pilots Association, said it was it is “highly improbable that a meaningful change to the normal age of retirement could have occurred in the short time between the retirement of the [two groups]”.

However, Thomas said, he had “not been provided with satisfactory information that there were no changes in the industry.”

“It is the right and the obligation of the parties to present that evidence to the tribunal in a quasi-judicial forum.''

A federal law that came into effect in December 2012 banned federally-regulated companies, including Air Canada, from forcing employees to retire at a mandatory age.

A lawyer for the pilots, Raymond Hall, told the Canadian Press he expected the new hearing to begin in early 2018.

Related stories:
Retail giant moves to suspend benefits, pension payments
Feds reject plan to raise retirement age

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