Bell Media, the parent company of CTV News, announced today that it would conduct a workplace investigation of the recent termination of Lisa LaFlamme, formerly the anchor of CTV’s National News. The investigation comes after many have questioned whether sexism and ageism were behind her termination.
LaFlamme had two years left on her contract and was terminated after 35 years at CTV. After the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, she was vocal about her decision to stop dyeing her hair in 2020, as visits to hair stylists became impossible, even for celebrated news anchors. Suspicions of ageism began when Michael Melling, the new head of CTV News, made comments to CTV employees about LaFlamme’s hair taking on a purple hue in the studio and asking around as to who had allowed her to stop dyeing her hair.
In a video statement on Twitter, LaFlamme revealed that her termination had blindsided her and she had hoped that, at the age of 58, she had a few more years of work ahead of her. Sadly, many older members of the workforce are also being pushed out of jobs and, sometimes, into premature retirement before they are ready. There are many reasons for this, some of which may have been factors in LaFlamme’s case. Sometimes senior employees are better paid, and employers feel they can hire younger workers for cheaper. Sometimes employers are less receptive to pushback from older employees. Sometimes employers simply have stereotypical perceptions of older people as being less productive and less adaptable.
However, more senior employees can be entitled to more substantial severance packages. Longer-term employees may not have updated employment contracts relevant to their current position at a company, and older contracts may be less likely to have provisions that determine their entitlements upon termination. In these cases, employees can be entitled to common law damages, which are greater than the minimum entitlements in the Employment Standards Act. The factors used to determine the amount of common law damages owed include the employee’s age, seniority, and position at the company.
An employee’s entitlement under the common law is also determined by their ability to find a new job. Longer-serving, more senior employees may have a harder time finding work because they have outdated educational credentials or, again, because they may be viewed as inflexible given their service at one employer for a long time. They may also be subjected to the same age discrimination by prospective employers. These employees need not look for just any job – they are required only to look for, and accept, comparable work in terms of seniority, job description, and compensation.
If you are a senior employee who has been terminated, you may be entitled to more severance than your employer has offered. If you are a senior employee who has been demoted, mistreated, or harassed, you may be constructively dismissed and entitled to a severance package. Either way, you may be a victim of age discrimination at your workplace. To better understand your workplace rights and explore the viability of a potential claim, we encourage employees and employers to seek legal advice. We at Whitten & Lublin are happy to provide insight and advice into your specific circumstances. If you are looking for employment lawyers and would like more information on what Whitten & Lublin can do for you, please contact us online or by phone at (416) 640-2667 today.
Author: Carson Healey