Mature Aged Workers: What to Do If You Face Age Discrimination

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Sadly, mature workers in Australia continue to face age discrimination in the workplace. While many employers understand that an older worker is a great asset, other businesses are less inclusive. In Australia, the Age Discrimination Act offers mature workers comprehensive protection, whether they’re applying for a job or already in employment. If you believe that an employer is discriminating against you, consider the following steps to help challenge the issue.

Get your head straight

All employees have to deal with conflict from time to time, and it’s important that you don’t confuse other workplace problems with discrimination. What evidence of discrimination do you have? You may have a letter or an email, or you may simply have the outcome of a conversation. Take some time to get your head straight, and decide if the situation really is discrimination. This doesn’t mean you should back down. You should just decide what you are dealing with.

Talk to your manager

It’s easy to go straight down a very formal route, but it’s also important to remember that people make mistakes. Initially, you should always talk to your manager. Explain how you feel about the situation in a non-confrontational way. Make it clear that you want to find a solution, and talk about any specific evidence that you have. A simple conversation can often fix the problem, but it’s also important to document the meeting because you may need to take things further.

In some companies, it can help to show your manager details of the Age Discrimination Act. You can get access to case studies, legal information and other resources online, which you can share and discuss with your manager. This isn’t about acting in a threatening way. In some organizations, you can help educate your employer, which can then bring about a quick solution.

Make an official internal complaint

If you don’t get results when you speak with your manager, you may need to escalate the matter. Larger companies will normally have an internal grievance procedure to follow. Check the details of the process, and make sure you follow each step closely. Don’t take on this task alone. Talk to a trade union or a solicitor, for detailed advice. Your employer must meet certain obligations, so these contacts can make sure you know what to expect.

Complain externally

The Australian Human Rights Commission deals with all complaints about age discrimination. It costs you nothing to make a complaint, but you do need to put everything in writing. The Commission will try to reach a suitable outcome with your employer, but if you don’t get the result you want, you can also take out formal legal action. Another option is to reach out to the Anti-Discrimination Board in your state. An official complaint may feel like a daunting prospect, but it’s important to stand up for your rights.

Get support

Don’t deal with a discrimination issue alone. Talk to a friend, colleague or family member, or make contact with a local support group. Any workplace problem is stressful, and it’s easier to deal with the issue when you have somebody to confide in. A second opinion helps you keep things in perspective, and can give you the confidence you need to tackle the challenge

Age discrimination is always unacceptable, but many mature Australian workers continue to face this problem. The law protects older workers from this type of behavior, so learn your rights and make sure you don’t let your employer get away with this conduct.

Have you considered using a professional Career Consultant to assist you with optimising your chances for success in your job search? Résumés for Results offer a range of career services and have extensive experience in assisting mature aged workers.

To learn more about the writer, Jeanette Hannan [click here].