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Age discrimination is treating people unfairly because of their age. It applies to any age. Indirect age discrimination is treatment which appears to be equal but is unfair on certain people because of their age. To be unlawful it must be unreasonable.

Great news for older drivers


As reported in the Advertiser, annual medical tests for drivers aged 70 and over will be scrapped to encourage older people to remain active in the community and because evidence shows they do not lower crash rates.

The removal of this requirement is welcomed by the Equal Opportunity Commission as it recognises that age is not the key determinant in a person’s ability to drive. This reflects approaches to the Commission by members of the community who have considered this to be unfair in the past.

For example:

Employment of mature age workers


Radio transcript from the Commissioner's interview with Annette Marner on 639ABC on 21 May 2013

Annette Marner: … Anne Gale … thanks for coming on … what do you see, do you hear complaints, I’ve certainly heard over the years that people have alleged there is a lot of discrimination towards older workers, what do you hear?

Age discrimination against older drivers


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Aired on: 
Radio Adelaide

Interview with Robyn Dwight on Radio Adelaide's Roundabout.

Sixty year old pruner told he was too old to apply


Harry contacted a regional labour hire agency about getting work as a grapevine pruner. First, he was asked if he took drugs. He answered, "No." Then he was asked how old he was. Harry answered: "A very fit sixty years old." He was then told that he was too old to apply, and the agency hung up on him. 

Harry made a complaint to the Equal Opportunity Commission.

Through conciliation, the company agreed to interview him. Harry was happy with their response, and this settled the complaint.

Shifts cut and being given to younger workers


Imogen worked in a suburban pet store. After working there for about six months, she noticed that her boss began cutting Imogen's shifts and taking on younger workers to work these shifts. Then, she had an operation on her foot and took two weeks off work to recover. Upon Imogen's return to work, the boss accused her of being unreliable for taking this time off. She felt that she could not longer tolerate this treatment at work, and resigned.  

Two weeks after Imogen made her complaint, a conciliation conference date was set. At this meeting, the store manager agreed to provide Imogen with a letter of apology, to reassess his management style to prevent any reoccurrence of the problem, and to pay her $600 compensation for hurt to feelings and general damages.

Les told he was being evicted because of his age


Les felt that he was evicted by Natasha, his landlord, for being too old. When he spoke to her on the phone, she said that she may have difficulty "matching" him because of his age.

In response to the allegations, Natasha claimed that the decision to ask Les to leave was not based on his age but his incompatibility with other tenants, and undesirable character traits. For example, on visits she sometimes felt frightened for her own safety and that of the other female occupant. 

At conciliation, Natasha agreed to pay Les $110.

Couple refused service at a restaurant with their 3 year old daughter

John and Judith were refused service at a small inner-city restaurant because they brought their three year old daughter and her buggy with them.  The reasons given by Hiro, the owner, were that the restaurant was busy, they were expecting people later in the evening, and the stroller/buggy they had brought for their daughter was too large.

The couple made a complaint of age discrimination.

The matter was settled with Hiro agreeing to attend equal opportunity training at the Commission, at no cost to himself.

Age ID not enough to buy alcohol for 18 year old girl in school uniform


Ivanna, wearing her school uniform, tried to buy a bottle of champagne from a metropolitan bottle shop.  The manager, Jade, told her that she could not sell it to Ivanna because she was in school uniform.  She explained that she was 18 years of age and offered to show two forms of ID.  However, Jade still refused, adding that her manager told her it was not a good look for the store.  She told Ivanna to go home and get changed, and then she would sell her the champagne. 

In response, the franchise administrators explained that this particular store's policy was due to an informal agreement with the local school not to serve students in uniform. They explained that measures had been taken to ensure the situation does not happen again, including communication with the store in question, communication with store managers about EO laws, commitment to ongoing training and education programs, and a notice being printed in the staff newsletter. An apology was provided to Ivanna for any inconvenience and embarrassment caused. Also, the store said it had programs in place to ensure discrimination is prevented and customers are treated with dignity, courtesy and respect. Ivanna was content to accept the apology, the proposed measures suggested and the store's ongoing commitment to education and training in the EO area.

Linda judged too old to enter night club


Linda, in her late twenties, was refused entry to a night club.  The doorman told her that it was a "VIP night" and was "dress to impress", and she did not impress him.  Later, when another staff member let her enter, Linda saw no indication of a VIP night, and most patrons were casually dressed.  She noticed that all the patrons were about 20 years of age, and realised that the reason she had been refused entry was because of her age.

Linda made a complaint of age discrimination to the Commission.

The complaint was conciliated, with the club agreeing to advertise designated VIP nights, to take action to improve the communication and public relations skills of staff, including refining induction processes for new staff and providing refresher courses for existing staff, to provide information on discrimination as a part of the induction process, to develop a written policy on complaint handling and addressing queries about dress code and to provide Linda with a written apology.

Carla's work injury blamed on her age and immaturity


Carla's first job at 14 was in the deli section of a metropolitan supermarket.  After slicing her thumb on the meat slicer, she took some time off work.  Shortly after her return to work, Carla's supervisor told her that she should come back in another six to eight months when she was older and more mature.

Carla made a complaint to the Commission, alleging that the reason for her dismissal was the injury she sustained in the workplace, and that the reason given for her termination was her age.

At conciliation, the complaint was resolved with $45 being paid to Carla, and a statement of service containing the period she worked and the duties she performed.
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