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20 Nov 2017 6:59
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  •   Home > News > Living & Travel

    Pilots win retirement age appeal

    Two Kiwi pilots have successfully convinced New Zealand's Supreme Court that they should fly until they are 65.


    The Supreme Court has ruled that two New Zealand pilots were discriminated against due to age, and should be allowed to fly after they are 55.

    In 2014, the Employment Court ruled that senior pilots David Brown and Glen Sycamore were being discriminated against by being forced to retire at age 55, required by their 2002 contract with Cathay Pacific's subsidiary New Zealand Basing.

    Both pilots, who have flown for Cathay since the early 1990s, turned 55 in 2015.

    Restructuring for the company's pilots took place in 2008 and 2009 and it was agreed that local employment law for pilots from the UK, Canada and Australia was to be the rule - providing for retirement at 65 - but this was not the case for the 33 New Zealand pilots.

    Hong Kong law, where Cathay is based, does not prohibit discrimination by reason of age.

    NZ Basing appealed the Employment Court decision in the Appeal Court in 2016 and won, although Mr Brown and Mr Sycamore were granted leave to appeal.

    In a Supreme Court judgement released on Wednesday, five justices unanimously said that the Employment Court's decision - saying the duo could appeal the age limit under the provisions of New Zealand's Employment Relations Act - should be restored.

    They took the view that pilots weren't captured by any exceptions in the Human Rights Act and would fall within the Employment Relations Act.

    It would be "very odd" for the law to "allow discrimination in the employment context in relation to persons in the appellants' position, solely on the basis of the parties' choice of law," they said.

    The judges also set aside the Court of Appeal's costs order against the pilots, and ordered New Zealand Basing to pay the pilots' appeal court costs and the $25,000 for taking the case to the Supreme Court.

    © 2017 NZN, NZCity


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