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eir settles case over worker forced into retirement

Telecoms company eir has settled a case involving a 65-year-old worker who was forced into retirement last year.

In December 2023, eir was ordered by the Workplace Relations Commission to reinstate Thomas Doolin and pay him for the time he was gone after losing an age discrimination claim.

Eir had said it would appeal the ruling to the Labour Court but today a spokesperson for the company said the case has been settled and that it will be making no further comment on the matter.

In the original WRC hearing, Mr Doolin said he was informed in February last year that he would have to retire from his job as a desktop support agent in the company’s internal IT department as soon as he hit his 65th birthday on July 1, 2023.

Mr Doolin, who represented himself in the proceedings, said he “loved” the work and had performed very well at it over the previous four years – calling the move by his bosses to impose a mandatory retirement age “unfair”.

The company denied discrimination and said it had notified Mr Doolin it was setting a mandatory retirement age “across the organisation” in April 2020, which was accepted by him.

The company’s position was that retiring Mr Doolin was objectively justified on the basis that it needed to “maintain an age balance” and succession planning to avert the risk of large numbers of staff retiring at the same time.

Eir also gave evidence that the company would have “potential bureaucratic challenges” and “additional costs” if it could not apply a single retirement age, along with health and safety concerns for the 85% of the eir workforce that was based in the field.

However, WRC adjudicator Breiffni O’Neill said the health and safety concerns did not apply to Mr Doolin because he was “exclusively office and desk-based”.

He ordered eir to reinstate Mr Doolin to his previous job effective from the imposed retirement date.

There was no award for compensation – but the reinstatement order meant Mr Doolin was entitled to be paid his salary for the time he was out of work between 1 July and 30 November 2023.

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