Reality of Age Discrimination in the Workplace

Ageism is real problem in our society, and the workplace is no exception to that. Stereotypes abound about older employees: that they are less efficient, less technologically capable, less willing to adapt, and so on. Similarly, younger employees are often assumed to be less knowledgeable, less loyal, or less competent. It is not limited to during the period of employment either. Even at the hiring stage, these preconceived notions can influence employers in a discriminatory fashion.

But what is required to prove a claim of age discrimination? A recent decision out of the Human Rights Tribunal of Alberta, Brown v Caregivers Home Health Care Inc, provides some insight.

What is required to prove a claim of age discrimination?

A claim that is just “based on assumptions or speculations” will not pass muster. Here, the dismissed employee, a 61-year-old receptionist, was never told that her age was a factor in the decision to terminate, or otherwise given insight as to the reasons relied upon.

Of course, an employer will seldom admit that there was a discriminatory basis for its termination of an employee. So, while a denial on its own may not be enough to defeat a claim, in this case, the employer was able to provide written statements from four individuals who had issues with the employee’s performance. The employee even admitted to being told during the termination meeting that her dismissal was due to the many complaints about her. Thus, the claim of age discrimination was ruled to have no merit.

Often though, there is more to claims of ageism, such as discriminatory comments, patterns in hiring and firing processes, or differential treatment in the workplace.  This type of behaviour could lead to an age discrimination claim.

How can an experienced employment lawyer assist individuals facing age discrimination in the workplace?

If you or someone you know is facing some of these actions and behaviours in the workplace, an experienced employment lawyer can advise you on the merits of your situation, and on potential avenues of relief for your issues. If you would like more information about what Whitten & Lublin can do for you, please contact us online or by phone at (416) 640 2667 today.

Author – Sohrab Naderi