HRTO Awards $20,000 for Age Discrimination to Fired Water Taxi Driver

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) has awarded a fired water taxi driver $20,000 in damages for age discrimination after the company told him it was “going with younger people now.”

According to the ruling, the driver had 20 years of experience with a rival water taxi company when he joined the respondent in 2016 on a promise of higher wages.

However, after two years working at $25/hour plus tips, when the 72-year-old showed up at the dock to work, the CEO asked him what he was doing there. According to the driver, when he said he was there to work, the CEO told him they were going with younger people now. Sooner after, a police officer approached him and asked what he was doing there since the CEO had fired him. It was only at that point that he understood that he was terminated.

Despite having participated earlier in the HRTO proceedings, nobody from the Company showed up for the one-day hearing, which meant that none of the applicant’s evidence was challenged before the adjudicator.

In her decision, HRTO Member Lavinia Inbar wrote that she had no reason to disbelieve the driver’s uncontradicted account of events, concluding that his age was a factor in his termination and that he had established a violation of Ontario’s Human Rights Code. When it came to remedy, the adjudicator wrote that an exact calculation of lost wages was not possible due to the seasonal and irregular nature of the driver’s work.

However, she was satisfied that $10,000 was a reasonable amount, based on a T4 slip showing he earned just over $5,000 in 2017, as well as his evidence that he received a further $5,000 in tips. The adjudicator also awarded the driver a further $10,000 in compensation for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect due to the manner of the termination.

“I consider that the impugned conduct only occurred once. However, the objective seriousness of termination of employment occurring in violation of the Code is at the high end, and the impact of the conduct on the applicant was significant,” she wrote.

“Aside from loss of income (addressed above) the immediate impact of the discrimination was the understandable embarrassment and upset of having been approached by police who told the applicant that they were terminated and effectively expelling them from the area.”

Tap the link to read the decision: