An appeals hearing began on Tuesday involving former Caymanian police officers who claim they were discriminated against on the grounds of age and nationality when they were forced to retire or accept a demotion at age 55.
The officers originally sued the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service in 2016, arguing that former Police Commissioner David Baines discriminated against them by forcing them to retire or accept demotions at age 55 while allowing British police officers to work until they were 60.
The retirement age of 55 no longer applies to officers following a legislative amendment made on Nov. 11, 2010. The retirement age for all police officers who joined the force after that date is 60.
In May, the Grand Court ruled against the officers, finding that Mr. Baines’ hiring decisions constituted an “entirely appropriate government action.”
“The commissioner of police was well aware of the needs of the police force and he had an absolute duty to meet those needs,” states the Grand Court judgment. “He had an absolute discretion to determine the contractual terms of each officer engaged on a special contract; and he could not be fettered in the terms that he used to attract and retain necessary officers.”
On Tuesday, attorney Jeffrey Jupp argued that the Grand Court erred in its judgment on several accounts.
For instance, the Grand Court found that the RCIPS’s retirement policy was not discriminatory because it allowed for exceptions, such as that of Sergeant Davis Scott, a Caymanian, who was retained by former Commissioner Baines beyond the age of 55 due to his special relationship and knowledge of the East End community on Grand Cayman.
However, Mr. Jupp said on Tuesday that Sergeant Scott was actually retained when he was only 52 or 53. Sergeant Scott served past the age of 55, but was given his final contract before then, Mr. Jupp said.
The attorney also argued against the RCIPS’s justification for the mandatory retirement age, which was that the RCIPS wanted officers physically capable of carrying out their duties. Given that the retirement age was increased to 60 in November 2010, it makes no sense to force someone hired before then to retire while allowing someone hired afterward to remain working for five more years, he said.
Mr. Jupp further argued against the idea that the RCIPS was trying to incentivize specialist talent to come here from overseas by allowing British officers to work until they are 60. Many of the Caymanian officers forced to retire at 55 were specialists, and many British officers originally brought here as specialists have since been promoted to other positions on the RCIPS, Mr. Jupp said. The attorney compared the practice of age discrimination to gender-based discrimination.
“What we now find utterly unfathomable was standard 40 years ago,” he said of sexual discrimination. “We must be careful to accept the same standards for age.”
The hearing was still continuing as of this issue’s press deadline, with the Attorney General’s Chambers scheduled to make its arguments in the afternoon.