7 women over 60 fired for no longer fitting ‘soccer mom’ image: Human Rights Legal Support Centre

Women filing human rights complaint against former product-demonstration employer

Seven women were effectively terminated from their product-demonstration jobs after being told they no longer fit the right image owing to their age, according to the Human Rights Legal Support Centre in Toronto.

Lone Thompson, 64, had worked for InStore Focus for 15 years. Thompson sought an explanation after being told verbally that she no longer fit the profile. Her area manager said it was because InStore Focus clients wanted soccer moms instead. In an email to Thompson, the area manager elaborated on her comment, writing "they want someone who represents the mom who does most of the shopping," said the support centre.

"After 15 years you just get discarded," said Thompson. "My worst fears were confirmed when I learned that at least six other women over 60 were told there were no more hours.”

Although InStore Focus claimed in writing that there were no shifts as a result of a "downturn in business," it posted 12 vacancies for the positions soon after the women were advised there were no available assignments. According to the company's website, InStore Focus handles more than 100,000 product demonstrations per year.

The group of women has filed human rights applications against their former employer.

"This is one of the more blatant cases of age discrimination we have handled,” said Beth Walden, a lawyer with the Human Rights Legal Support Centre who is representing the seven applicants. “Ontario's Human Rights Code protects workers from being fired or not getting a job because of age."

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