Mandatory retirement quashed for pilots (Legal view)

Tribunal changes tune on requirements, finds premise violates rights and freedoms
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 11/02/2009

A collective agreement between Air Canada and its pilots that required retirement at age 60 is discriminatory, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has ruled. The decision marks a change in approach for the tribunal after the Federal Court asked it to reconsider its 2007 dismissal of the complaints of two pilots forced to retire under the policy.

The two Air Canada pilots, George Vilven and Robert Kelly, were terminated in 2003 and 2005, respectively. Both terminations were within days of the men turning 60 and were in accordance with mandatory retirement age provisions of the pilots’ pension plan, which are part of the collective agreement.

Vilven and Kelly wanted to continue flying as pilots with Air Canada. There is no maximum age in Canada for the licensing of airline pilots and they both passed the required medical examinations for pilots over 40. Both men filed complaints claiming Air Canada discriminated against them on the basis of age, contrary to the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA).