Worker wins age discrimination case

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A former tour bus driver has won his age discrimination case against his former employers over his unfair dismissal in 2007.
75-year-old Robert Talbott was awarded $25,000 yesterday following a successful claim under the Anti Discrimination Act.
Mr Talbott was a tour bus driver for Mount’n’Beach Safaris, conducting Sydney to Blue Mountains tours between 2005 and 2008. In a letter to Mr Talbott in 2007 his employer advised him that although he was highly valued he was to step back from tour driver/guide work due to his age. Following that letter Mr Talbott’s responsibilities and hours were significantly reduced and his employment was terminated a short time after.
In the Administrative Decisions Tribunal, Mount’n’Beach Safaris was found to have discriminated against Mr Talbot on the grounds of age, and was ordered to pay $5,000 to Mr Talbot for loss of income, and $20,000 for the act of discrimination.
Nicolas Patrick, a partner at global business law firm DLA Piper who acted for Mr Talbott on a pro bono basis, noted that older people have a right to continue to enjoy their life on an equal basis with others in the community, including a right to work.
“The abilities and contributions of older people are increasingly undervalued in Australian society and I think age discrimination is becoming increasingly prevalent. Unfortunately many people don’t understand their rights, and don’t know that they are entitled to make a complaint under the Anti Discrimination Act," he said.
The most recent anti-discrimination legislation, the Age Discrimination Act 2004, aims to ensure that Australians of any age have equal opportunity in the workplace.
Managing director of specialist ageing workforce consultancy SageCo, Alison Monroe recently told Human Capital that age discrimination is still commonplace, particularly in the area of recruitment.
“Whilst the tide is turning and organisations have begun to realise they cannot afford to ignore the experience and skills of the mature workforce, unfortunately it does appear that there is evidence of ‘passing the buck’,” she said.
“Recruitment agencies hide behind the excuse that clients stipulate the ‘age range’ of their ideal applicant - mostly falling into the ‘prime age’ group - whilst organisations tell us that their recruitment agency simply don’t funnel mature applicants through the pipeline.”

Despite this, a MyCareer employment forecast this week indicated that workers aged over 63 were the fastest growing employee base, growing at 8.6% 
Mr Talbott was pleased with the result of his case, saying that he wasn’t slowing down and intended to work for as long as he was able.

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