Age Discrimination in the Modern Workplace

Age Discrimination in the Modern Workplace

How Can Employers Avoid Age Discrimination in the Workplace?

As people live longer and retire later in their lives, age-related issues are becoming more and more salient for employers. Claims of discrimination, even if never proven in a court or tribunal, can cause severe reputational damage and lower workplace morale. We recommend taking precautions to steer clear of age discrimination before any potential claims crystallize.

Older employees are often stereotyped as being inefficient, less technologically capable, unable to develop new skills, and so on.  Not only can this attitude infect workplace relations, but these preconceived notions can also lead to discrimination at the hiring stage. Employers should institute thorough human rights training, ensure employees have a clear and safe way to make complaints, and take seriously and investigate all such complaints.

How Should Employers Handle Mandatory Retirement Policies?

Accommodations, particularly relating to conditions associated with older age, are another important area. Employers are required to accommodate age-related restrictions to the point of undue hardship. The threshold for this is understandably difficult to meet.  Instituting a proper process to request accommodations and adequately training management is a proactive way to fight age discrimination in the workplace.

Mandatory retirement policies can also give rise to discrimination claims if they do not relate to bona fide occupational requirements. Early retirement incentives are generally a safer way to achieve the same objectives. Even benefits plans that differentiate between those over and under 65, though ostensibly allowed by the Ontario Human Rights Code, have attracted scrutiny in Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario cases like Talos v Grand Erie District School Board, 2018 HRTO 680.

How can Whitten and Lublin help?

An experienced employment lawyer can properly advise on how to best stay onside of human rights legislation. If you would like more information about how Whitten & Lublin can help you navigate avoiding age discrimination, please contact us online or by phone at (416) 640-2667 today.

Author – Sohrab Naderi