Age discrimination, mental health common human rights complaints: Report

Federal commission has referred hundreds of cases involving mandatory retirement to tribunal
||Last Updated: 04/13/2011

Mental health and age discrimination complaints are among those commonly received by the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC), according to its annual report for 2010.

Data collected from the commission’s dispute resolution branch suggests age discrimination has already started to have a significant impact on Canadian workplaces. This past year, 227 of the 853 complaints (27 per cent) accepted cited age as one on the grounds of discrimination.

Discrimination on the basis of age is prohibited by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, the Canadian Human Rights Act permits employers to end an individual’s employment “...because that individual has reached the normal age of retirement for individuals working in positions similar to the position of that individual.”

Over the past five years, the commission referred 273 complaints of age discrimination to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. Almost all were related to mandatory retirement.

A growing number of the disability complaints received by the commission are for mental health reasons. In fact, 27 per cent of the disability complaints received by the commission in 2010 were related to mental health. The commission is working with the Mental Health Commission of Canada to promote awareness of the connection between mental health disabilities and human rights, reduce the related stigma and prevent discrimination.

This year the commission completed 53 employment equity audits. Of these, 21 organizations met the requirements of the Employment Equity Act. The other organizations are taking additional action to comply with the Act.

“As citizens we share a common responsibility to speak out against discrimination,” said Jennifer Lynch, chief commissioner at CHRC. “The cases discussed in this year’s annual report provide examples of Canadians who have taken this responsibility to heart.”

The 2010 annual report is available on the commission’s website.

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