26 Mar 2015

And yes, I am one of the grey-haired ones and am often heard saying it’s unlikely that anybody will employ me because of my age.  And I hear it from others as well -  “I’m too old to get another job”.  And make no mistake, I am well qualified, very experienced and, as a researcher, up to date with what is happening in the world of my work.  Here’s a somewhat devious plan to deal with it …

My friends at Bartlett Law publish a regular newsletter. It’s very good. Their April edition has an interesting article entitled “Age discrimination case raises privacy concerns”.  Now, we older, very experienced and competent people could have a field day with this. Here’s the case …

“The Human Rights Tribunal has ruled that a Timaru man who accused Alpine Energy of age discrimination for not hiring him as an employee (wait for it…) has the right to see the CVs of the other applicants!  In a decision that raises some troubling privacy issues, the Tribunal held that Mr Waters should have full access to all documents that might assist in establishing that “persons of a younger age with lesser skills, less qualifications and less time engaged in similar work or similar positions, were considered more favourably.”

It goes on to say that Mr Waters signed a confidentiality agreement, but that there is nothing to indicate that the other applicants ever anticipated that their personal details would be viewed by a third party in such a case.

So employers beware, this is a test case for unsuccessful job applicants.  And my cunning plan for us grey haired ones is to apply for jobs knowing that you are well qualified and experienced for the job. If you’re not successful in your application, ask for the details of the other applicants – or the successful one – and measure yourself against them.

Is this a case of the older, more experienced generation fighting back against age discrimination (which is meant to be illegal) in New Zealand?  I think so.  And employers don’t be complacent – these older people often have plenty of time on their hands to do just that – fight back.

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