Although provincial laws preventing employers from discriminating on the basis of age are aimed at protecting employees, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has found that some independent contractors are also covered, Toronto employment lawyer Doug MacLeod tells Succession Planning, a special supplement published by The Bottom Line and Lawyers Weekly.
As MacLeod, principal at MacLeod Law Firm says in the article, this would cover situations such as if somebody was hired by a law firm, but the firm controlled factors like their hours, other working conditions and remuneration.
“If they’re set up like employees, I think the court or administrative tribunal will look past the legal form of their relationship, and look at the substance,” he explains.
MacLeod notes that the definition of age, for anti-discrimination purposes, in Ontario’s Human Rights Code has been 18 or older since 2008. It used to be between 18 and 65, which means that no employee of any firm can now be asked to retire at 65.
In terms of how to handle a situation where you are being asked to retire before you are ready, MacLeod says some law firms set up non-equity, non-voting partnerships for their members.
With the non-equity partner, he explains, the person is still a partner under a partnership agreement, but the lawyer may have different and new legal rights and responsibilities.