The Attorney General’s Chambers on Tuesday defended former Police Commissioner David Baines’s hiring and retirement decisions, as an appeal hearing continued into claims by former Caymanian police officers that they were discriminated against when forced to retire.
The officers originally sued the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service in 2016, arguing that Mr. 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’s hiring decisions constituted an “entirely appropriate government action.”
One of the RCIPS’s rationales for allowing British officers to retire at a later age was to attract specialist talent from overseas, according to statements made in court.
During the appeal hearing on Tuesday, Deputy Solicitor General Reshma Sharma argued further that the RCIPS was justified in making its hiring and retirement decisions.
Ms. Sharma said that even if the Caymanian officers were discriminated against, it’s not enough for them to show that they were negatively impacted. Instead, they have to meet a high threshold of adverse impact, she said.
The deputy solicitor general cited a case from the European Union involving several Russians who were banned from taking on employment after they left the KGB. Those Russians were able to show the courts that their rights were violated because they were severely impacted, but that case is “distinguishable” from that of the Caymanian officers, she said.
“We say they do not meet the threshold [of adverse impact],” she said.
Ms. Sharma’s arguments were in response to submissions made earlier Tuesday morning by attorney Jeff Jupp, who is representing the Caymanian officers. A total of 10 current or former officers joined the suit, but four later withdrew their claims.
Mr. Jupp 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.”