In the past two decades the Supreme Court of Canada made apparently contradictory rulings on mandatory retirement. In 1982, the Court ruled that mandatory retirement for firefighters at age 60 violated provincial human rights laws; in 1990, it found that forced retirement for university faculty and others at age 65 was constitutional. An analysis of the decisions shows that the Court relied on the stereotype of older workers as being less competent than younger workers, and failed to provide older workers with protection against age-based discrimination. A number of the key mandatory retirement cases deal with university faculty and may yet have unanticipated consequences, such as strengthening the role of academic tenure. The unwillingness of the Supreme Court to eliminate mandatory retirement means that ad hoc arrangements driven by changing life cycles, employer needs, demographic changes and legislative actions will continue to arise.