In most cases where people find their job applications get turned down and suspect the reason is their age, they usually take a case to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) under the Employment Equality Acts.
In a recent case before the WRC, where the job applicant was in his 70s, it was clear from the outset that his senior years was the only problematic issue but, in this case, his prospective employer was fully vindicated, and the applicant was refused any compensation.
This rather unusual outcome occurred when an elderly man sought a track and trace job with the HSE during the 2020 Covid crisis and was referred by them to an online application form which he duly filled up. He also obtained the necessary Garda clearance. He heard later from the agents for the HSE, CPL Healthcare, that his application was not being progressed as he was in his 70s and within a high risk and vulnerable category. At this stage of the track and trace campaign, none of the work was being done at home and the tracers were expected to work together in groups of 8/10 people in one room.
The applicant replied back to CPL indicating he was in good health and fit to carry out the work involved. When he was refused the opportunity to work, based on the covid health guidelines, he took a case against them to the WRC. CPL responded by outlining that the public health advice and its own occupational advice at the time was not to expose anyone in a very high risk category to the risk of being exposed to the virus. CPL argued that his job refusal was not because of his age but a condition attaching to his age and the WRC agreed with CPL’s actions stating they served “the legitimate aim” of protecting the health and safety of employees and potential employees.
The WRC found it would have been absurd, “if an agency employed by the HSE in the frontline battle against Covid, should themselves, in their employment practice, disregard the medical advice relied upon to combat the infection”. They found the applicant had not been discriminated against.
Rom Hyde v CPL Healthcare WRC June 2022 Irish Times Report