Kieran describes being discriminated against at work because of his age. We explain how the Equal Opportunity Act relates to his situation, and how the Commission can help people who have a similar experience.
"We got a new supervisor who was a couple of decades younger than me. She was chatty and wanted to be friends with all the younger staff, but she treated me like I was old and out of touch."
“My industry has changed a lot due to new technology, and I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of keeping up. At my age, my young colleagues are usually a bit more tech-savvy than me, but I’ve always felt that they respected my experience.
We got a new supervisor who was a couple of decades younger than me. She was chatty and wanted to be friends with all the younger staff, but she treated me like I was old and out of touch.
Even though I had the most experience within the team, she’d assign the most interesting and complex projects to younger colleagues. Half the time, they’d end up seeking me out for input anyway, because I was the only one who’d worked on that kind of project before. Sometimes, she’d make critical comments about my IT skills and ask me in front of the rest of the team whether I needed help with the most basic tasks like sending an email or creating a spreadsheet. It was humiliating.
When we were getting new company cars, she didn’t allocate one to me, even though a lot of the sites I had to visit were a long way from the office and my old car was overdue for an upgrade. She laughed and said she didn’t think I’d need one because I’d be retired soon, wouldn’t I? She pretended it was a joke, but I know it wasn’t.
I made a complaint to the Commission. They contacted my employer and arranged a conciliation meeting. It was a good chance for me to explain how this unfair treatment had made me feel. They apologised and said they’d look at some training and other initiatives to make sure their teams were conscious of bias and discrimination.”
The incidents portrayed in this story are inspired by real complaints received by the Commission, but all names and other identifying details have been changed.
How does the law apply to Kieran’s situation?
In Victoria, it’s against the law for you to be discriminated against or bullied because of your age, including when you are at work. Age discrimination can happens to people of all ages, whether you are young or old.
The Equal Opportunity Act applies to employers of all sizes and covers all types of workers, including full-time, part-time and casual employees, agents and contract workers, and trainees and apprentices. Age discrimination is against the law in all stages of employment, including recruitment, returning to work after injury or illness, dismissal and retrenchment.
You can make a complaint
Get help from the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.
You can make a complaint to us if you think you have experienced:
If you wish, someone else can make a complaint for you. Find out how the Commission helps people resolve complaints.
We can also give you information about your rights.
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"I couldn’t believe he said it; it made me feel so uncomfortable, like he was mocking my age. It also made me feel like the work I did and the contribution I made to our office wasn’t valued at all."