Key facts of the case:
The employment contracts of tree pilots of a German airline were terminated when these employees reached the age of 60, pursuant to a provision of the applicable collective agreement. The employees considering this termination as a discrimination on grounds of age challenged their dismissal in court; while the courts of first and second instance dismissed the action, the court of third instance decided to refer to ECJ.
Results (sanctions) and key consequences of the case:
Article 2(5) of Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation must be interpreted as meaning that the Member States may authorise, through rules to that effect, the social partners to adopt measures within the meaning of Article 2(5) in the areas referred to in that provision that fall within collective agreements on condition that those rules of authorisation are sufficiently precise so as to ensure that those measures fulfil the requirements set out in Article 2(5). A measure such as that at issue in the main proceedings, which fixes the age limit from which pilots may no longer carry out their professional activities at 60 whereas national and international legislation fixes that age at 65, is not a measure that is necessary for public security and protection of health, within the meaning of the said Article 2(5).
Article 4(1) of Directive 2000/78 must be interpreted as precluding a clause in a collective agreement, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, that fixes at 60 the age limit from which pilots are considered as no longer possessing the physical capabilities to carry out their professional activity while national and international legislation fix that age at 65.
The first paragraph of Article 6(1) of Directive 2000/78 must be interpreted to the effect that air traffic safety does not constitute a legitimate aim within the meaning of that provision.