What to Know About Workplace Age Discrimination

Many older adults report facing workplace age discrimination. They feel pushed out of existing employment or struggle to gain equal employment access that prioritizes hiring younger candidates. Age is often used to diminish one’s competency and capability in the workplace, even though this is a clear example of ageism and illegal workplace discrimination. 

As employment lawyers will tell you, age workplace discrimination is illegal under the Ontario Human Rights Code. You cannot be discriminated against because of your age where you work. If you believe you have been mistreated because of your age, there may be a legal case on the grounds of discrimination and a violation of the Human Rights Code.

Should you decide to proceed with a court case, you must prove workplace age discrimination occurred. You do this by establishing that you are in a protected age case and your job performance was satisfactory. Plus, you must prove an adverse job action was taken against you, while similarly situated younger employees were treated more favourably. Even if you aren’t sure you can do this, speaking with a legal expert can shed light on what’s possible.

Here is what you need to know about workplace age discrimination.

It Happens More Than We Think

As many as 78% of older adult workers have either seen or experienced first-age age discrimination in the workplace. It is rampant. According to an AARP poll conducted earlier this year, some 49.3% of older adults are long-term unemployed, meaning they’ve been out of work for six months or longer. A large portion of these people is reporting significant disadvantages accessing work because of their age.

You Cannot Be Forced to Retire

As an older adult worker, you cannot be forced to retire or forced to exit work. You cannot be denied a job, training, or even a promotion because of your age. There are a few exceptions wherein mandatory retirement is allowed in Ontario. However, it is very rare. If you feel pressure to exit a position or retire by your employer, this could be a case of workplace age discrimination. An employment lawyer may be able to help.

You Cannot Be Denied A Promotion

A lot of older workers may feel like they aren’t being offered advancement opportunities. You should not be excluded from applying for a promotion because of your age. If evidence suggests an older adult is being passed over for a less qualified, younger candidate, this could amount to workplace age discrimination. All workers, regardless of age, deserve a fair shot.

Older Workers Cannot Be Targeted in a Layoff

When staff reductions have to be made, it is unfortunately common to target older workers to save on labor costs. Laying off older employees might lower overall salary expenses and reduce the number of employee benefits paid out. If you or other older workers are being unfairly targeted in layoffs or staff restructuring, that’s a violation.

False Accusations of Poor Job Performance

There are lots of ways an employer can create the pretext that can cover up age-related workplace discrimination. A popular way is to take disciplinary action against an older worker, falsifying job performance reviews that describe an older worker as inadequate. If you’re a more senior worker, contact an employment lawyer if you believe your employer wants to dismiss you based on your age.

Age-Related Workplace Harassment

Workplace harassment can also become an issue. An older employee can be made to feel unwelcome either by social exclusion, jokes, taunting, or a wide variety of hostile age-related communication. The law doesn’t consider the excuse of “It was just a joke” as an acceptable explanation. If an older worker is experiencing age-based harassment or is being made to feel unwelcome, there is an argument to be made that this is workplace age discrimination.

You Cannot Be Denied a Job Because of Age

You do not need to be employed to be a victim of workplace age discrimination. If you are searching for a job and are being denied for age-related reasons or have been told you are overqualified, it may be a sign an employer is using discriminatory hiring practices.

You Do Not Have to Feel Alone

A lot of older workers may not realize the legal options available to them. You do not need to feel unwanted or deserving of workplace conduct because of your age. Aging in the workplace is increasingly common, with older adults staying in their positions for longer. If you feel mismanaged because of your age, talk to an employment lawyer. In a workplace, you should not be made to feel like you don’t belong or that you should quit.