In Gorka Salaberria Sorondo v Academia Vasca de Policía y Emergencias the ECJ have considered whether the imposition of an upper age limit of 35 for applicants to the Spanish police and emergency services in the Basque region of Spain was precluded by the application of age discrimination provisions of the Equal Treatment Framework Directive ("the Directive"). The ECJ had previously decided in Perez v Ayuntameierto de Oveido that an upper age limit of 30 for recruitment of local police officers in Spain was precluded by the Directive.
Mr Sorondo, who was over 35, brought a claim that there was no justification for imposing the upper age limit of 35 years. The defence stated was that the age limit was required to ensure that newly qualified police officers could meet the physically demanding tasks of their role over a relatively long period during their careers. If the age limit was not applied assigning suitable officers to the most demanding tasks would be difficult, and the officers could not be assigned to those tasks for a suitably long period of time.
The national court, taking into account the duties of the police in the Basque region as well as Spanish case precedent, found the age limit to be proportionate and reasonable, but stayed the proceedings and sought a preliminary ruling from the ECJ on whether the age limit was compatible with the Directive.