herald

Sunday 26 January 2020

RTE ordered to pay TV producer €100k for making her retire at 65

Compensation for Anne Roper amounted to a year's salary
Compensation for Anne Roper amounted to a year's salary

RTE has been ordered to pay a former senior TV producer €100,000 compensation after forcing her to retire at 65.

The cash-strapped station now faces the threat of further claims after the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) made the award to Anne Roper.

It comes as Dancing With The Stars contender and former RTE presenter Mary Kennedy said she was sad to leave Nat- ionwide because of the station's compulsory retirement age.

Ridiculous

She said it was "ridiculous to be saying to people, just because they're 65, that that's the end of it".

Ms Roper took a discrimination claim under equality legislation after RTE refused to allow her to work for a further 18 months when she reached 65.

She claimed the decision to terminate her employment discriminated against her on the grounds of her age.

In a decision seen by the Herald, adjudication officer Catherine Byrne said that as a result of her compulsory retirement on July 9, 2018, Ms Roper was discriminated against on the grounds of her age.

She said she made the decision despite being "mindful of the finding" in the context of the precariousness of RTE's funding and "the need to find radical ways to reduce costs".

Ms Byrne directed RTE to pay Ms Roper €100,000, which is equal to a year's salary.

In 1997, Ms Roper was appointed senior producer in television after working at the station for nine years.

Ahead of her 65th birthday, she was invited to attend a retirement planning course but made it known she wanted to stay at work for 18 more months.

By April 2018, it became clear that RTE would not allow her to stay on.

Seamus Dooley, of the Nantional Union of Journalists (NUJ), said her contract made no mention of an age at which she must retire.

RTE argued that freeing up Ms Roper's role enabled a younger person to be promoted.

Marguerite Bolger, representing RTE, said there was no other means of achieving inter-generational fairness.

It conceded that in exceptional circumstances, employees had been permitted to remain working at the station beyond 65, but this was not such a case.

Their expertise was used for work such as the Olympics or at election time.

While RTE accepted that it had discretion to offer Ms Roper further work after her retirement, it said the exceptional circumstances did not arise in her case.

However, Ms Byrne said she was not satisfied that RTE had shown "there is a connection between the complainant's retirement at age 65 and the broadcaster's objective to encourage intergenerational fairness".

In a statement, RTE said it was reviewing the WRC's decision.

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