Age Discrimination Lawyers

Employees are vulnerable to discriminatory conduct based on their age. This is particularly applicable to older age groups. Individuals aged between 45 to 75 and over made up 75 per cent of age discrimination claims between 2018 to 2019.

People facing age discrimination at work are usually treated less favourably than others because of their age. A common example of age discrimination is where employers choose to terminate an employment contract on the basis that a particular employee is too old. This is an unlawful reason to dismiss someone and employers may risk contravening the Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth) as a result.

What is age discrimination?

The Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth) provides for two different types of discrimination: direct and indirect. Direct discrimination occurs when one person treats the aggrieved person less favourably than another person in similar circumstances based on their age. A good example of this is age-based retirement requirements. Recently, a landmark case has been commenced alleging that Deloitte Australia’s retirement age of 62 breaches age discrimination laws. Andrew Jewell, a principal at employment law firm McDonald Murholme, said if Mr Brown is successful in his case it could prompt similar claims from partners at other big four firms who impose specific retirement ages. Here, a person who is over the age of 62 is being treated less favourably than someone under the age of 62 because of their age.

Indirect discrimination occurs when a neutral condition, requirement or practise has the effect of disadvantaging those of a similar age to the aggrieved person. For example, a condition that requires an employee to have a high level of dexterity where it is not necessary for the employment may contravene the Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth). This is because older people are less likely to have a high level of dexterity compared to younger people. Here, older people are being disadvantaged by their age, even though the condition appears to be neutral on its face.

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  • July 2020

    I wouldn't hesitate to recommend McDonald Murholme. From the initial consultation, right through to the resolution process, the entire team was supportive, knowledgable and approachable and made what can be a difficult situation much easier. Specifically Trent and Alexandra provided a high level of service, and engaged with me in a very personable manner. I am extremely satisfied with the service I received.
  • July 2020

    I couldn't recommend the team from McDonald Murholme more. Mr Sam Nottle was efficient, professional and achieved a wonderful result. If you are questioning whether to go ahead with an employment matter legally, I would urge you to do so. The team at McDonald Murholme made the process easy & reduced all of my anxiety and stress. Thank you again, Mr Nottle & team, I can't express my appreciation enough.
  • June 2020

    I found Arthur Hambas & Katherine Boyles extremely professional & compassionate in my dealings with them. After telling Arthur that I felt the details surrounding my redundancy felt wrong he took on my case & secured me a better payout from my employer. I would not hesitate to recommend Mcdonald Murholme to anyone that has a feeling that something isn't quite right. I greatly appreciate everything you did.
  • May 2020

    Extremely happy with the service received from all the staff members i had to deal with. The lawyer allocated for my case (Michael Kriewaldt) was extremely professional and handled the case very smoothly. Highly recommend their services.
  • May 2020

    I found Arthur Hambas & Katherine Boyles extremely professional & compassionate in my dealings with them. After telling Arthur that I felt the details surrounding my redundancy felt wrong he took on my case & secured me a better payout from my employer. I would not hesitate to recommend Mcdonald Murholme to anyone that has a feeling that something isn't quite right. I greatly appreciate everything you did.
  • April 2020

    The solicitors at the firm were very prompt and actioned my complaint against my employer very quickly. I obtained the result I wanted, in fact, I got a better result than what I had originally asked for. I was very pleased with the results and would highly recommend McDonald Murholme.
  • March 2020

    I would like to say that McDonald Murholme have treated me with nothing but professionalism and also great service. Trent, a principal in the firm is attentive to your needs and will ensure your case is handled with care and mindful consideration to all parameters involved.

Discrimination against you because of your age?

Talk to an employment lawyer who has acted for thousands of employees like you.

Frequently asked age discrimination questions

How prevalent is age discrimination in the workplace?

As highlighted by the prevalence of age-based retirement requirements, age discrimination remains a problem in the workplace. Studies have estimated that one-third of employers are reluctant to hire mature aged workers and that over one-quarter of Australians aged 50 years and over had experienced some form of age discrimination in the last two years. In 2017-2018 the Australian Human Rights Commission received 2,046 complaints, 8 per cent of which were lodged under the Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth). These statistics are concerning, especially given the increasing life expectancy of Australians.

What is age discrimination?

The Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth) provides for two different types of discrimination: direct and indirect. Direct discrimination occurs when one person treats the aggrieved person less favourably than another person in similar circumstances based on their age. A good example of this is age-based retirement requirements. Recently, a landmark case has been commenced alleging that Deloitte Australia’s retirement age of 62 breaches age discrimination laws. Andrew Jewell, a principal at employment law firm McDonald Murholme, said if Mr Brown is successful in his case it could prompt similar claims from partners at other big four firms who impose specific retirement ages. Here, a person who is over the age of 62 is being treated less favourably than someone under the age of 62 because of their age.

Indirect discrimination occurs when a neutral condition, requirement or practise has the effect of disadvantaging those of a similar age to the aggrieved person. For example, a condition that requires an employee to have a high level of dexterity where it is not necessary for the employment may contravene the Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth). This is because older people are less likely to have a high level of dexterity compared to younger people. Here, older people are being disadvantaged by their age, even though the condition appears to be neutral on its face.

What can I do if I have been subject to age discrimination?

If you have experienced age discrimination and were not able to resolve the matter with your employers a complaint can be lodged in the Australian Human Rights Commission. Once the complaint is received, the President of the Commission can investigate and try to resolve the dispute by conciliation. If unsuccessful, your claim can be lodged in either the Federal Circuit Court or the Federal Court. The court is able to award remedies such as compensation, an order that the discriminator does not repeat the action, and reinstatement of your position.

What defence might my employer use for claims of age discrimination?

The Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth) provides for some circumstances that will not constitute age discrimination:

  • where the discrimination provides a bona fide benefit to persons of a particular age. For example, the provision of a Seniors Card treats younger people less favourably but is not unlawful discrimination because it is a good faith benefit provided to the elderly;
  • The act is intended to meet a need that arises out of a particular age group. For example, young people often have a greater need for welfare services than other people. This means that youth welfare services are not discriminatory against older people;
  • The act is intended to reduce the disadvantage experienced by people of a particular age. For example, when a person over the age of 45 is dismissed, they are entitled to one extra week of notice of termination. This is in recognition of the difficulties a person of this age may face in securing suitable alternative employment;
  • A certain age is an inherent requirement of the job. A good example of this is the case of Qantas Airways v Christie (1998) 193 CLR 289. In this case, Christie, a 60-year-old international airline pilot was dismissed based on age. However, being below the age of 60 was held to be an inherent requirement of the position because most countries prohibited pilots over the age of 60 from flying in their air space.

If your age discrimination falls into one of these categories, it will not have been unlawful discrimination.

Speak to an employment lawyer who has acted for thousands of employees like you.

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