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Vancouver lawyer, 69, loses fight against mandatory retirement

VANCOUVER — A 69-year-old Vancouver lawyer has lost his battle against mandatory retirement after the Supreme Court of Canada upheld his law firm’s partnership agreement.
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Vancouver lawyer John McCormick has lost his battle against mandatory retirement after the Supreme Court of Canada upheld his law firmÕs partnership agreement.

VANCOUVER — A 69-year-old Vancouver lawyer has lost his battle against mandatory retirement after the Supreme Court of Canada upheld his law firm’s partnership agreement.

Writing for the unanimous seven-member bench, Justice Rosalie Abella said the B.C. Human Rights Code did not apply to John Michael McCormick because of the “control” he exercised over his own working conditions.

McCormick was an equity partner with Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP and therefore part of the group that controlled the firm, Justice Abella said, not “a person vulnerable to its control.”

She added that for over 30 years he benefited financially from the retirement of other partners.

McCormick was not in an employment relationship, the justice continued, nodding to the B.C. Court of Appeal decision, therefore the B.C. Human Rights Code did not apply.

The Code is designed to protect individuals deemed to be vulnerable by prohibiting discrimination in specific contexts, such as employment, Justice Abella explained.

McCormick was not in an “employment relationship,” she said.

The lawyer turned 65 in March 2010 and was required to retire under the Partnership Agreement, absent an individual arrangement to the contrary, at the end of 2010.

He filed a complaint with the provincial Human Rights Tribunal alleging age discrimination contrary to s. 13 of the Code.

The tribunal dismissed his application and he sought a judicial review.