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Court rules on mandatory retirement in airlines.

In a unanimous ruling, the Supreme Court limited the conditions under which an employer can require employees to retire before age 70. In the decision, written by Justice John Paul Stevens, the Court rejected Western Airlines' argument that an employer need only offer a "rational reason," such as airline safety, for requiring employees to retire before age 70.

Instead, the Court said an employer must show that a particular age is "reasonably necessary to the normal operation of the particular business" and that "all or nearly all employees above an age lack th e qualifications." If unable to do so, an employer must demonstrate that it is "highly impractical" to test each new employee to prove that after the designated age each employee remains qualified.

The decision will immediately affect Western and other airlines that have mandatory retirement policies, and also will have an impact in other industries. All pilots are required to retire at age 60 under a Federal Aviation Administration regulation--which was not changed by the Court ruling--but some air carriers permit pilots to "downgrade" to flight engineer status at age 60 and continue working. Western and some other carriers did not permit flight engineers to work beyond age 60, which led to the legal challenge.
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Title Annotation:Supreme Court
Author:Ruben, George
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Aug 1, 1985
Previous Article:Court rules on employer-sponsored health plans.
Next Article:Pension fund trustees can see payroll records.

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