Swiss Federal Administrative Court Confirms Age Discrimination In Governmental Educational Programs


A general age restriction for candidates applying to an educational leadership program for music teachers offered by the Swiss Federal Government violates the constitutional principle of non-discrimination, according to a decision rendered by the Swiss Federal Administrative Court on July 11, 2017.

Despite excellent and long-standing professional experience in leading various music choirs, a 67 year old applicant was not admitted to the educational leadership program. The Federal Government argued that there were many younger candidates who are likely to serve much longer as musical directors, so using tax-payers monies to educate a 67 year old candidate would not be well spent.

The candidate argued that the age restriction infringed the principle of non-discrimination as laid down in Article 8 of the Swiss Federal Constitution, according to which no person may be discriminated - amongst others - on the basis of his age unless a qualified justification exemption exists. In a nutshell, the candidate held that professional competence should in any case prevail over age.

The Federal Administrative Court now shared the candidate's view. The court pointed out that fundamental constitutional rights can only be restrained under strict conditions, what requires in particular a basis in the law. Even though the "age-test" does...

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