An Age-old Problem in the Workplace
With the tidal wave of boomers entering their 60s, a surge in age discrimination is inevitable.
These were the words of employment lawyer David Whitten in a recent interview published on thestar.com. The workforce is aging, and just because you aren’t thinking about retirement doesn’t mean your employer isn’t thinking about making that decision for you. The problem Whitten paints in the article is that individuals facing age discrimination are often either unwilling to admit it to themselves or too afraid to ask for help – both scenarios end poorly.
He goes on to discuss that employers will often use shady tactics to dispense of older employees, like firing a few younger ones in order to cast a veil over a targeted larger group of older employees. In order to even the odds, Ontario law has taken on some employee-friendly changes. For example, we no longer have mandatory retirement, and employees can include human rights complaints within wrongful dismissal claims.
Employees can make these laws work for them by taking a few proactive measures. Employers are legally obligated to accommodate for age in the same way as they are disability. The caveat is that you have to tell them – preferably in writing; this way if you are fired for an age-related concern, you have evidence to support your triggering of the employer’s duty to accommodate.
It is important to set aside any feelings of pride or guilt and strike a dialogue with your manager to communicate your needs. If they choose to ignore your concerns, you have likely been the victim of discrimination and should contact a lawyer.