The Supreme Court Rules on a Mandatory Retirement Age Caseadmin / 0 Comments /
The Supreme Court Rules on a Mandatory Retirement Age Case
As the population of the people in the world continues to get older, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled in a case that will impact what people are allowed to do as they age. The case in question involves John Michael (Mitch) McCormick against his former employer Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP.
Mr. McCormick was a lawyer at this firm for 430 years. When he turned 65, he was forced to retire from the firm because of their policy. Mr. McCormick complained that the forced retirement was age discrimination and therefore was illegal. The court sided with the law firm in this case. They said that law firms and other partnerships can force their partners to retire. They claimed that these businesses are not covered by the provincial human rights codes.
Most of the workers in Canada are not restricted by any mandatory retirement age laws. In this case the question centered on whether a partner in a law firm could be considered an employee. If they were an employee, than they would not have to abide by the mandatory retirement age of the firm.
The firm argued that they could enforce the mandatory retirement age of 65 on a partner, because of the role that a partner had in the decision making of the firm made them more than an employee. The High Court agreed with this argument. They said that his standing as a partner allowed him to share in the profits and losses of the firm and meant that he had too much control over the workplace to be considered just an employee of the firm.
The firm also had said that the retirement age was needed to help them recruit the new and younger lawyers that could eventually become partners. Without the mandatory retirement age, this would be impossible according to the firm.
The implications of this decision can affect many partnerships in Canada and the way that partners are treated within these companies. If the court had not decided in favor of the law firm it could have opened the door for human rights complaints to be filed against these types of companies.
The attorneys for Mr. McCormick had argued that the partners at a large firm were essentially treated like employees. The firm and the rules of the firm controlled the way that the partners were treated at the firm and controlled all of the different aspects of their employment including the compensation they received, the clients they represented and the way they were allowed to dress.
While this decision by the court may seem to protect the different law firms and other partnerships from human rights complaints by the partners, there is a chance that it does not cover all of these types of companies. The ruling was about a partner in an equity partnership. There are non-equity partnerships that may not fall under this ruling and these types of law firms are becoming more common. The partners in non-equity law firms do not have fewer rights than partners such as Mr. McCormick and still be able to make human rights complain