Believed to be the first age discrimination case prosecuted by
the Ombudsman, the restaurant owners were ordered to pay penalties
totalling more than $29,000 in addition to compensation of $10,000
to a long standing employee terminated on his 65th birthday.
The employee took long service leave in April, 2011. When he was
due to return to work, he was told that he would work part-time.
The employee subsequently met with his employers and raised
questions about a number of issues, including his pay, later
putting his concerns in writing. Shortly after this, he received a
letter informing him of the plans to terminate his employment on
his 65th birthday. The Ombudsman successfully argued that this
action was unlawful.
Advocates, including Age Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan,
believe age discrimination is a rising trend.
There were 32 Queensland-wide age discrimination complaints in
2012-13i compared with 23 in 2011-12ii.
Compounding the problem is that the issue, legally, is quite new
(the Age Discrimination Act was only introduced in 2004) and many
older people may be unsure of their rights and/or reticent to take
action. Commissioner Ryan recently told SBS Radioiii it
was of particular concern for older people from non-english
speaking backgrounds who were often afraid to speak up.
Whether the barriers are linguistic or cultural, or the
discrimination is direct or indirect, the key issue to note is that
the law is designed to protect employees from discrimination based
on their age.
Anti-discrimination legislation also prohibits termination and
adverse action due to an employee's:
physical or mental disability
family or carer's responsibilities
national extraction; or social
However it should be noted that state and federal legislation
varies slightly on the characteristics /grounds which may form the
basis of a discrimination complaint. Generally speaking, there is
an exception if the discriminatory action is taken due to the
inherent requirements of the particular position occupied by the
So what do you need to know if you believe you have been
subjected to age discrimination?
It is illegal to sack someone because of their age.
You can seek compensation and the imposition of penalties as a
result of discrimination.
You can take legal action against both your employer and any
co-workers who discriminated against you.
Long experience representing many of Australia's leading employers has taught us that in employment litigation the identity of an employee's representative is a major factor in how employee litigation runs.
Treasurer Scott Morrison recently announced changes to a number of 2016 Budget superannuation contribution measures.
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