Age discrimination at the forefront

Aging workers, elimination of mandatory retirement makes age-related human rights a top workplace issue
By David Whitten
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 05/02/2012

Employees aged 65 or older, particularly those in the federal civil service and nationally regulated industries, may well find themselves out of a job by year’s end due to a legislative loophole.

Recent amendments to the Canadian Human Rights Act banning mandatory retirement have made such a cull possible. Ironically, the changes to the act, made in late 2011, were intended to empower older employees to work longer. However, the amendments do not take effect until December 2012, and the delay is motivating many federally regulated organizations — such as banks, airlines, broadcasters and interprovincial trucking and shipping companies — to get rid of older employees en masse before the ban kicks in.

Those unfortunate enough to be purged are being deprived of their right not to be discriminated against based on age, and the actions of these employers make a mockery of the decision by legislators to ban mandatory retirement. Federally regulated organizations, which include some of Canada’s biggest employers, are clearly motivated to terminate older employees while they still can without incurring liability.