Key facts of the case:
The applicant in the main proceedings had been employed as a cleaner for many years. According to a provision of the employment contract the employer gave notice to the applicant of the termination of the contract on the ground that the applicant had reached retirement age (65).
The applicant notwithstanding the fact that she started receiving a (very low) statutory old-age pension intended to continue working and brought an action against her former employer claiming discrimination on grounds of age. The court decided to refer to ECJ.
Results (sanctions) and key consequences of the case:
- Article 6(1) 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 it does not preclude a national provision such as Paragraph 10(5) of the General Law on equal treatment (Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz), under which clauses on automatic termination of employment contracts on the ground that the employee has reached the age of retirement are considered to be valid, in so far as, first, that provision is objectively and reasonably justified by a legitimate aim relating to employment policy and the labour market and, second, the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary. The implementation of that authorisation by means of a collective agreement is not, as such, exempt from any review by the courts but, in accordance with the requirements of Article 6(1) of that directive, must itself pursue a legitimate aim in an appropriate and necessary manner.
- Article 6(1) of Directive 2000/78 must be interpreted as meaning that it does not preclude a measure such as the automatic termination of employment contracts of employees who have reached retirement age, set at 65, provided for by Paragraph 19(8) of the framework collective agreement for employees in the commercial cleaning sector (Allgemeingültiger Rahmentarifvertrag für die gewerblichen Beschäftigten in der Gebäudereinigung).
- Articles 1 and 2 of Directive 2000/78 must be interpreted as meaning that they do not preclude a Member State from declaring a collective agreement containing a clause on the automatic termination of employment contracts, like that at issue in the main proceedings, to be of general application, provided that it does not deprive employees who have reached retirement age of the protection from discrimination on grounds of age conferred on them by those provisions.