Labour & Employment Law Blog

Age in the Workplace

Age in the Workplace

Employers in Ontario cannot discriminate against employees because of age.  This is because age is a protected ground under the Human Rights Code, 1990 (“Code”) and if an employer acts in a way that infringes the Code it could face serious legal consequences as a result. Both the young and old may experience age-related discrimination.

Age discrimination can manifest itself in a variety of ways in the workplace. For instance, an employer may deny an employee a job because they are “too old” or “too young” and the employer is seeking to promote a different image of the workplace. Similarly, if an employer’s job application refers to age, such a reference may be deemed discriminatory and in breach of the Code. Statements made in the course of an interview relating to a candidate’s age that may be somewhat indirect such as questioning a candidate’s “maturity level” or “ability to keep up” could be a potential violation of the Code, if such statements could be linked to age.

If age becomes a factor in the course of the employee’s employment or termination then the employer will be in violation of the Code and, as such, subject to legal redress. For instance, if an employer does not assign an employee certain tasks, excludes the employee from meetings or if the employer refuses to promote the employee because of age, the employee will be successful in alleging discrimination.

An employer is able to regard age as an adequate criterion as long as the employer can justify that age consideration is a bona fide occupational requirement. However, the circumstances where differentiation because of age may be permissible are extremely limited and any such employment policy, course of action or workplace standard would be carefully scrutinized by the Human Rights Tribunal or the courts. The onus that age is a properly held job requirement rests with the employer and employers seldom succeed in defending such a position.

Finally, with the exception of a few professions in the public sector, mandatory retirement is no longer permissible in Ontario unless the employer is able to argue that the retirement is a bona fide occupational requirement. For instance, if the employer forces an employee to “retire” at the age of 65 (or any other age for that matter) and the employee does not wish to retire, such a policy would be in contravention of the Code. An employer may offer retirement benefit programs to its employees but such programs have to be voluntary. A forced retirement program may result not only in an action for constructive dismissal but in various forms of relief under the Code including reinstatement, back wages and general damages.

The above article is for general information purposes only, does not constitute legal advice or create a solicitor-client relationship. Because each case is unique and factually driven, if you have concerns with regard to the foregoing issues, please make an appointment with one of our lawyers or a qualified legal practitioner elsewhere. We represent clients in the Greater Toronto Area including Toronto, North York, Markham, Vaughan, Thornhill, Newmarket, Aurora, Brampton, Mississauga, Barrie, Ajax, Whitby, Pickering and Oshawa.

Legal Receptionist

Zeilikman Law is an employment law firm located in Vaughan, Ontario. We are looking to hire a legal receptionist to join our firm. Preference will be given to candidates who have experience working as a receptionist at another law firm.

Location: Vaughan, Ontario.

Start Date: Immediately.

Hours: Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. Full time. In-person only. This is not a remote work position.

Wages: 35,000 to 40,000 per year.

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Manage our firm’s multi-line telephone system to receive incoming calls.  Screen incoming telephone call inquiries to determine the nature of the telephone call and provide standard information related to our legal services.  Take and deliver messages and route incoming telephone calls to the appropriate staff person.
  • Answer general inquiries coming from the firm’s social media and website email.
  • Welcome in-person visitors upon arrival.  Direct visitors to the appropriate staff person and / or office or boardroom.
  • Organize in-person visitor schedule to prevent overlap and multiple bookings.
  • Receive, sort, and distribute daily mail and deliveries.
  • Arrange for couriers.
  • Keep front reception, kitchenette area and boardroom tidy.
  • Perform various clerical duties such as filing, photocopying, and faxing on an as-needed basis.
  • Process client or other payments.
  • May be asked to run minor errands outside of office such as attending post office to arrange a courier or pick up mail.
  • May be asked to assist other law clerks or lawyers of the firm as required and as appropriate.
  • Any other basic administrative duties or tasks as deemed appropriate.

Required Skills:

  • Basic knowledge of general office procedures including filing, faxing, and printing and copying.
  • Basic word processing computer skills.
  • Proficient in receptionist and telephone practices, etiquette, and decorum.
  • Professional attitude and appearance.
  • Excellent organizational skills.
  • Positive customer service attitude is a must.
  • Must be able to maintain confidential and sensitive information.

Education and Experience:

  • Highschool diploma or equivalent.
  • 1 – 2 years’ experience in an office setting with an emphasis in accounting, reception or clerical work is required.   We would prefer experience in a law firm environment.

Applications for this position should be sent via email to jennifer@zeilikmanlaw.com. All applications should include a cover letter, resume and at least two references. Only successful candidates will be contacted.