In Chilliwack, Russell Sehllard, a 63-year-old former fighter, has filed a complaint to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal claiming the city discriminated against him based on age. Firefighters in the city are forced to retire at 60, with a one-year grace period.
Elizabeth Reid, a legal specialist in human rights issues, says that Sehllard will have a case.
“The burden [is on] the city to show there’s a connection between the retirement at age 60, and they can’t make any exceptions because that would cause undue hardship,” she says. “The challenge for the city is they have to show that using age 60 as a proxy for ability is appropriate, and that’s where they may run into challenges.
“Anytime we’re using a blanket statistic, we might be able to say in general as people age they’re going to be at general age, but it doesn’t say whether [an individual] would be.”