Getting Rid of Mandatory Retirement is Just the First Step – Action is needed to prevent age discrimination in the workplace

There is also an interesting distinction between “positive action” which the regulations define as lawful vs. “positive discrimination” which the regulations define as unlawful. Positive action allows an employer or trade union to grant a certain age group access to training or encouragement to take advantage of opportunities to do work, where people of that age group are disadvantaged in relation to work because of their age. On the other hand, employers cannot appoint someone to a job or positively discriminate by virtue of a particular age group being underrepresented.

Toxic Work Environments

At an Air Canada Pilots’ retirement dinner in 2006 attendees mocked the effigy someone had put together. A plastic zombie, a frightful sight in a pilot’s uniform was meant to be one of the pilots fighting mandatory retirement. The effigy of the Air Canada pilot teaches us that we need to do more than just defeat mandatory retirement. We need to defeat ageist attidues. To work without discrimination in accordance with ability is a fundamental right. All workers must be free from arbitrary discrimination in hiring, termination, access to training, compensation, and promotion opportunities; regardless of Equality rights are also protected in employment age, race, sex, disability, etc.

What kind of workplace will the pilots face if they are reinstated? The tribunal can rule that their rights have been violated but it will take lots more to ensure that the spirit of the law is actually applied in the workplace. As we know, this is not only a human rights issue; our economic well-being also depends on the ability to retain older workers. Once they are acknowledged as resource, perhaps attitudes may change. But in the meantime, businesses should implement a zero tolerance policy towards discrimination in the workplace.

Keywords: mandatory retirement, ageism, work