A recent study by the World Health Organisation has found that 1 in 2 people worldwide are ageist against older people. This is a shocking statistic, especially given Australia’s ageing population and the societal trend towards working past the traditional retirement age. Unfortunately this means that many older Australians are being subjected to age based discrimination in the hiring process and the workplace itself.
What does age discrimination at work look like?
Age discrimination is defined in the WHO Report with three dimensions: stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination.
Some examples of age discrimination given by the Australian Human Rights Commission include:
- not employing certain people because they won’t ‘fit in’ with other employees because of their age
- not employing younger workers because of assumptions that they will quickly move on to another job
- advertising a position for someone aged ‘under 30’ to join a ‘dynamic, young team’
- making choices around redundancy, or forcing someone to retire, because of his or her age, or
harassing or bullying a person because of his or her age.
How can the law help me?
The Age Discrimination Act 2004 (ADA) prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of age. It applies to young and older workers alike.
If you believe your employer has discriminated against you because of your age, you may also be able to file a general protections claim with the Fair Work Commission. This course of action may be available to you if your employer has taken adverse action against you, and the reason for doing this is your age.
Your employer takes unlawful adverse action against you if they:
- dismiss you;
- injure you;
- alter your position or demote you to your prejudice; or
- discriminate between you and another employee,
because of your age.
In instances where you have been dismissed, there is a strict 21 day time limit to make an application to the Fair Work Commission. If you think you have been dismissed because of your age you can check if you have a claim using our eligibility questionnaire. It’s free and will give you the results in a couple of minutes. .
In summary, if you experience age discrimination at work, here are some options available to you:
- Keep a record of the incident
- Make an internal complaint
- Speak to the Australian Human Rights Commission, Fair Work or a lawyer
- Make an external complaint to AHRC or FWO or your state/ territory anti-discrimination tribunal
- Do not feel forced into retirement
Resolution123 has found an increase in the number of older workers taking action against employers due to ageism. If you believe you are being treated unfairly in the workplace because of your age, we can help.
If you’d like to hear more about age discrimination at work, check out our Principal Carly Stebbing’s interview with Sky News discussing the epidemic of ageism in Australian workplaces.