21854847_sThe Toronto Globe and Mail published a short article about age discrimination in Canada, cases of which are on the rise (as they are in the US).  “With mandatory retirement for most workers gone, coupled with a demographic bulge and low returns on fixed-income investments, more older workers are putting off retirement and staying in the work force than ever before.”  An official with CARP (the Canadian Association of Retired Persons), said that “Eliminating mandatory retirement provisions only removed legislated age discrimination. It did not remove discriminatory attitudes and practices in the workplace.”

The article says that Canadian courts are increasingly giving larger severance awards, reflecting the likelihood of fewer employment opportunities for older workers.  For example, in one case a 70-year-old employee was awarded an additional 22-month severance after 20 years of work, and in a second case a 72-year-old employee was reinstated and awarded several years of back pay.

A Canadian attorney was quoted as saying that “It used to be that if you had an older worker that might be slowing down … you would usually let them stay and retire with dignity.  Now the problem is, what do you do?”   He cautioned employers, as we would in the US, against complaining about an older employee’s performance, suggesting retirement, or saying things like “You seem to be slowing down.”

Based upon the many US cases we have read, we have cautioned against referring to older employees as:   “ancient,”  “old school,”  “set in his ways,”  “not a proper fit for the ‘new environment,’” “lacking in energy,”  “not being up to date,”  “sounds old on the telephone,”  “is like a bag of bones,” is “a little long in the tooth,” and “does not have enough runway.”   And do not say to an older worker “hang up your Superman cape!”

A second Canadian attorney quoted in the article wisely advised that employers should conduct performance evaluations for “workers of all ages from the day they are hired, and not just those near the end of their careers.”

Ultimately, the second attorney said that “employers should look at older workers – often more reliable, with vast stores of experience, and no child-care issues – as an asset, as certain sectors are set to suffer from labour shortages.”

We have also said that.