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Canadian company faces claims of ageism

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Rachel Ogbu
WVoN co-editor

Seven women, aged 62 to 78, have recently filed a human rights complaint against Canada’s largest product demonstration company.

The women claim they lost their jobs as supermarket product demonstrators for InStore Focus for not looking like “soccer moms”.

The women – based in London – depended on their part-time jobs as “brand ambassadors” with the product sampling giant.

They are now seeking $25,000 each in damages for “insult to dignity” and a combined $38,000 in lost wages.

The women worked an average of 14 to 28 hours a week but their hours were cut to zero between last summer and autumn because of an alleged downturn in business.

At the same time, however, InStore was advertising for 12 new brand ambassadors.

Lone Thompson, 64, had worked for InStore Focus for 15 years.  She was told that the company wanted “someone who represents the Mom who does most of the shopping.”

Beth Walden, a lawyer with Human Rights Legal Support Centre, who is representing the women said:

“People can believe that their age has something to do with (the loss of a job), but it can be hard to get the evidence. Here it’s very clear.

“This case highlights how vulnerable older workers are and older women in particular.”

  1. Kate J. says:

    I used to work for In-Store Focus when my children were young. That was 15 years ago when I was younger, prettier and sexier. Fast forward to today, 15 years later – I cannot imagine how insulted I might feel if I was told, or made to feel, that I was not youthful enough to represent a company.

    What many organizations and companies don’t understand is the wisdom and knowledge and all the life lessons that older women (and men) bring to a business. As a 50 something woman, I am far more worldly, aware of current affairs, knowledgeable about society and in general understanding of different cultures and people in general then someone in their 20’s or 30’s. It comes from lifes experiences. I also probably more physical energy and business acumen

    It is very disheartening to think that businesses think that youth sells more than a fantasy.

    Oh well, one day these same people will be 50 something, lose their jobs, and then understand what we are all talking about!

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