Ten former and current Royal Cayman Islands Police Service officers have sued the government, claiming they were forced to retire, with some accepting a lower rank in order to maintain employment after they reached age 55.
The retirement age of 55, set under the previous iteration of the Cayman Islands Police Law, no longer applies to officers hired following the current Police Law’s effective date, Nov. 11, 2010. The retirement age for all police officers who joined the force after that date is 60.
However, anyone hired prior to that date who is below the rank of police chief inspector must still retire at 55 or, if given the option, can be re-engaged as a police constable or senior constable, the lowest ranks in the police service, the lawsuit filed on Jan. 11 claims.
The lawsuit also alleges that U.K. police officers who joined the RCIPS prior to November 2010 are not being retired or reduced in rank in the same way as their Caymanian or Caribbean counterparts, once they reach age 55. “Officers recruited to the RCIPS from the United Kingdom before Nov. 11, 2010 and who are British by nationality and non-gazetted officers [below the rank of chief inspector] are not required to retire at age 55,” the lawsuit states. “Alternatively, if they are required to retire at age 55 they have, in practice, been reengaged without loss of rank.
“The effect of this discriminatory treatment is that non-British officers have been discriminated against in respect of their rights under section 9 of the Bill of Rights and this discrimination, which is on the grounds of their nationality, is also an unjustifiable breach of section 16 of the Bill of Rights.”
The Cayman Islands Constitution Order, 2009, bill of rights section 9 sets out the right to private and family life. Section 16 is the anti-discrimination section of the bill.
The lawsuit was filed by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Association, an officers’ representative group, and names two police officers, Dane Pinnock and Claire Pinnock-Jackson, both of whom allege they were retired upon reaching age 55. In Mr. Pinnock’s case that was in 2013, in Ms. Pinnock-Jackson’s case, that occurred last year.
Mr. Pinnock, a former police inspector, alleges he was informed following his retirement that he could not continue to serve at that rank and had to be reduced in rank to a senior constable when he was re-engaged. He applied for and accepted that lower rank, the lawsuit states. Ms. Pinnock-Jackson, a detective sergeant, was retired in September 2015, the writ states.
The other eight officers in the lawsuit, named only as petitioners four through eleven, are “in a similar position” and have already reached the retirement age of 55 or will be retired upon reaching that age.
“The requirement to retire at age 55 has tangible consequences for the material and emotional well-being of the individual officers and their families,” the writ states. “The requirement that any reengagement must be at a reduced rank of constable or senior constable necessarily affects those of higher rank by their loss of status and professional reputation.” The suit alleges the older officers are being discriminated against generally because the current law requires them to retire at age 55, when the younger officers who joined after November 2010 will not have to retire until they reach age 60.
The suit further alleges that the act of retiring “non-British” officers at age 55 represents an act by government that is “irrational and/or disproportionate” even if it is determined to be within the law. The 10 officers filing the writ are seeking financial recovery of damages resulting from their retirement or loss of rank.