Both the Québec Charter of Human Rights and
Freedoms (Québec Charter) as well as the Canadian
Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Canadian Charter) provide for
the right not to be discriminated against on the ground of age. In
the context of employment, the Québec Charter prohibits
discrimination based on age with respect to the hiring,
apprenticeship, duration of the probationary period, vocational
training, promotion, transfer, displacement, laying-off,
suspension, dismissal or conditions of employment.
Discrimination based on age occurs in the workplace when a
distinction, exclusion or preference is made based on a
person's age or because such person belongs to a certain age
group (youth, seniors, etc.). As such, absent reasonable
justification, decisions and practices in the workplace that create
discrimination based on age will be illegal under the Québec
Charter. For example, the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal ruled in
favour of a waitress wrongly dismissed because she apparently no
longer corresponded to her employer's youthful image
(Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la
jeunesse c. 9063-1698 Québec inc., 2003 CanLII 40742
In order to prove age discrimination, it is not necessary to
demonstrate that a job-related decision was made
solely based on age: it is sufficient to
demonstrate that age constituted one of the grounds
justifying the decision.
For instance, in Syndicat des professionnelles et
professionnels du gouvernement du QuébecetQuébec (Ministère de l'Emploi et de la
Solidarité sociale), D.T.E. 2011T-539 (T.A.),
the employer denied the application of a 60 year-old candidate,
because he wanted to rejuvenate his staff. In fact, the employer
told the candidate that he was looking to bring fresh blood...The
arbitration tribunal concluded that this constituted wrongful
discrimination based on age and awarded damages.
Discrimination on the ground of age is prohibited "except
as provided by law". Indeed, in the field of labour relations,
many laws and regulations authorize distinctions based on age. As
an example, pursuant to the Act Respecting Labour
Standards, no employer may have work performed by a child
between 11 p.m. on any given day and 6 a.m. on the following day,
except in specific cases. When such a law exists, an employee
cannot allege discrimination on the ground of age under the
Remedies are available for employees who believe that they are
discriminated on the basis of age. Among them, the employee can
file a formal complaint with the Human and Youth Rights
Commission, which will conduct an investigation. The
Commission may then recommend any corrective measures it deems
appropriate and, if the employer fails to comply with them, can
apply to the Human Rights Tribunal on behalf of the complainant to
seek appropriate measures. Unionized employees can rely on the
grievance procedure set forth in the collective bargaining
Moreover, employees have the right to continue to work
notwithstanding the fact that they have reached or passed the age
or number of years of service at which the employee should retire,
for the reasons set out in the Act respecting labour
standards. Therefore, an employer cannot dismiss, suspend or
retire an employee, practice discrimination or take reprisals
against them on those grounds.
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