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Is 45 Too Old To Work? Age Discrimination Rife In Aussie Workplaces

Is 45 too old to work? Age discrimination rife in Aussie workplaces

A recent study has found more than 3 in 10 Australians aged 45 and over have experienced age discrimination.

The discrimination happened during employment and when they were looking for work in the past year.

Discrimination on the basis of age is unlawful in Australia.

Age discrimination common

The University of South Australia conducted the survey of 2,100 older workers, and found they face limited employment, training and promotional opportunities.

Jessica Irving is the study’s author, and says there are many industries where age discrimination is particularly common.

For example:

  • construction
  • administrative services
  • education
  • manufacturing
  • essential services
  • information technology and also
  • professional service industries

“Older adults describe a subtle pressure from colleagues and management to stop working to make room for the younger generation.

“Workers found patronising attitudes where employers or colleagues assume they would struggle with new technology due to their age.”

Older workers use strategies such as concealing their age and spending money on cosmetic surgery to maintain a youthful appearance.

Unlawful to discriminate on the basis of age

Discrimination on the basis of age is unlawful, according to industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from Discrimination Claims.

“It’s said that when workers hit their 50s they walk into a glass trapdoor, where they move from boardroom to boredom,” he said.

“In other words, they are ignored for younger, shinier models when workplace opportunities arise.”


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Restaurant penalised for sacking waiter

For example, the Fair Work Ombudsman took a Gold Coast restaurant to court after management fired a long-term employee on his 65th birthday.

The employee argued in a written response to his sacking:

“I must point out that my effectiveness as a food and beverage attendant when I turn 65 is no less than my effectiveness at the age of 64.”

The court penalised the restaurant operators $29,150 for age discrimination.

In addition, the court also ordered the business to pay $10,000 compensation to the former employee.

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