In an interesting ruling recently, the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) determined that the age limit of 25 used by Abercrombie & Fitch for on-call workers is not unlawful because it pursues a legitimate aim.
The Italian law in question stipulates that an on-call employment contract, whereby the worker makes themselves available to work in a discontinuous or intermittent nature, for a person under the age of 24 must be concluded by the age of 25.
The Equality Framework Directive of the EU outlaws discrimination on various grounds, including age. However, Article 6(1) allows for differences on the grounds of age if such a policy is in pursuit of a legitimate aim and its achievement is by appropriate and necessary means. A legitimate aim could include employment policy, labour market and vocational training objectives
The reason the Italian government introduced this law was to facilitate the entry of young people into the labour market i.e. to provide them with an initial opportunity to get into the labour market and to gain experience.
In Italy, the youth unemployment rate for aged 15 to 25 years was 51% in 2004. It has fallen to 39% in 2016.
The claimant worked as a night warehouseman at Abercrombie from December 2010. He was told in July 2012 that his employment was terminated, having reached the age of 25.
The CJEU agreed that member states have discretion to pursue a particular aim regarding social and employment policy and the identification of measures to achieve it. Thus, they agreed that the age limit of 25 was reasonable and necessary.