The Latvian law provided that firefighters can continue their job after reaching the age of 50 only if they receive a permission from the Fire fighting department. The applicant, Mr. E., requested for his employment contract to be prolonged after this age, but his request was denied. The applicant submitted an application to the administrative courts. The court of the first instance ruled in his favor, but the court of appeals dismissed his claim.
Mr. E. among other things complained that principle of equality that is guaranteed in the Labour Law was violated, because the court of appeal had not evaluated his position in comparison to other persons in comparable positions.
The Supreme Court stated that in general the age restriction for fire fighters could be considered to be legitimate for those positions that are connected with practical action in the field thus requiring very good physical condition that is not compatible with old age.
However, the Court also pointed to the fact that the Fire fighting department in the case of the Mr. E. had not evaluated the possibility to employ him in administrative or other position that does not require very good physical condition. Furthermore, other less qualified employees in his age and older had not lost their positions in the department. Therefore, although the department enjoys wide margin of appreciation in determining whether to prolong the contract with employees over 50, the Court ruled that in this case the decision to not to prolong the contract with Mr. E. was not well reasoned enough.