European Court of Justice dismisses claim against Trinity for discriminatory pension rules

The claim was made by Dr David Parris, a former French lecturer in College


The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has dismissed a claim made by a retired lecturer against Trinity College for unfair treatment on the grounds of sex and age discrimination regarding its pension rules. The ruling was made last Thursday.

Dr David Parris (70), a lecturer in French who worked for the university between 1972 and 2010, challenged the university’s pension provisions, which prohibit his male partner from accessing a ‘survivor’s’ pension in the event of his death.

Trinity’s pension rules state that the partners must have married or entered a civil partnership before the age of 60. However, civil partnership was only recognised in Ireland in 2011, when Dr Parris was 65 years of age. The two men entered a civil partnership under UK law in 2009 and were married in Britain in January 2015. They claim they would have married or contracted a civil partnership earlier, had either option been legally possible in Ireland.

The ECJ found that College’s pension rules were not directly discriminatory, as both homosexual and heterosexual people have to marry or enter a civil partnership before the age of 60. The court also ruled that no indirect discrimination had occurred because Ireland was not required by EU law to allow same-sex marriage or civil partnerships before 2011.

In addition, the court found that occupational pension schemes are allowed to fix the age for admission and dismissed the age discrimination claim. The Higher Education Authority, Department of Public Expenditure, and the Department of Education were also named as defendants in the case.