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Canadian Human Rights Commission "Cautions Employers on Rights of Aging Workers"

Jurisdiction: - Canada/Federal

The Canadian Human Rights Commission issued a news release on March 26, 2012 that "Cautions Employers on Rights of Aging Workers". The release reads:

On December 16, 2011, the Government of Canada repealed the section of the Canadian Human Rights Act that permitted federally regulated employers to impose mandatory retirement in some circumstances.

This measure was included in the Budget Implementation Act, which also stipulated a one-year transition period before the repeal of section 15 (1) (c) of the Canadian Human Rights Act takes effect.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission has received inquiries and is aware of media commentary about employers seeking to take advantage of the transition period to force employees to retire before they are ready to. While there is no evidence that this is taking place, the Commission believes it is prudent to caution any employer that might be considering such action to think again.

''The transition period should not be viewed as a license to force aging workers out the door,'' said David Langtry, Acting Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission. ''Forcing someone to retire because of their age clearly contradicts Parliament's intent, even if a defense in law still appears to be available,'' he said.

Even before it was repealed, the Federal Court had ruled that section 15 (1) (c) violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that this breach is not a justifiable limitation of an individual's right to equality.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission encourages employers to continue working towards an inclusive work environment while taking steps to ensure that they are able to positively respond to an aging workforce.