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April 02, 2021

60-year-old worker wins age discrimination case

Last year, an RBC poll found that 85% of yet-to-be retired baby boomers believe they'll work until they choose not to. But, among those who've actually retired, only 62% actually had that choice.

That's changing, of course. Now that provincial governments have struck down laws allowing employers to sack staff once they turned 65, businesses are more cautious when about weeding out higher-paid older workers through early-retirement incentives or outright layoffs.

In fact, even talking about retirement with older employees can get you into trouble, warns Toronto lawyer Colin Kelly

Any comments that an employee might reasonably interpret as encouraging retirement, even if  well-intentioned, may result in employers being charged with aged-based discrimination, according to a recent Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario ruling.

Recently, a 60 year-old employee who was eligible to retire with an unreduced pension and who admitted that she had previously discussed her plans to leave work, claimed that her manager discriminated against her by initiating conversations about the advantages of retirement.

Despite the fact that the manager’s comments “were not made with an intention to discriminate or disparage the [employee] on the basis of her age,” and the fact that his comments were well intentioned, the Tribunal awarded her $7,000 for injury to her dignity, feelings and self-respect.

As a result, employers would be wise to stick to providing only neutral facts and direct employees to company policies on retirement, Kelly suggests.

In fact, until someone provides formal notice of retirement, employers would be wise to avoid treating employees as is they were going to retire because of their age.

Has anyone at work had an unwelcome "perhaps it's time to go?" discussion with you? Were you offended? Did you feel threatened?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money




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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...