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In 1997/1998[6] age was cited as a ground of discrimination and/or harassment in 5% of complaints received by the Commission (105 cases).  The majority of age-related complaints (81) arose in the employment context, followed by goods, services and facilities (21).  In the same year, two age discrimination complaints, or 2% of the complaints that were closed in that year, were sent to a Board of Inquiry.  Both were in relation to the area of goods, services and facilities.  This figure is consistent with the Commission’s overall figure with respect to Board referrals.  The majority, approximately 45%, of the employment cases were withdrawn or abandoned and 29% were dismissed by the Commission.

In 1998/1999[7] age was cited as a ground in 6% of complaints received (174) and once again most often in the employment context (134) followed by goods, services and facilities (33). Interestingly, in the context of settlements in mediated cases, cases in which age was cited as a ground of discrimination on average settled for considerably more money than cases which cited other grounds[8]. In 1998/1999, six out of 196 cases that were closed were referred to a Board of Inquiry.  This represents 3% of cases, which is lower than the average for all cases disposed of in the year (4.1%). 

The important difference between age and other cases is more evident in the qualitative than in the quantitative analysis.  Partly because of the recognized social utility of retirement policies and partly because of the differing attitudes to age discrimination, the legal and normative approach to age discrimination appears to be less critical and rather more accepting of the practice.

[6] The statistics are based on the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Annual Report 1997/1998. Unfortunately, the available statistics do not indicate to which age groups the complainants belong.  However, it is likely that the majority, at least in the employment context, are from individuals aged 45 to 65.
[7] Based on the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Annual Report 1998/1999.
[8] The average dollar value for age discrimination cases was $14,348.65; the next highest ground was handicap at $6,866.72.  One possible explanation for the higher awards in age cases might be related to the difficulty older workers can have in obtaining new employment and mitigating their damages.


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