Dr. Pnina Alon-Shenker: Reframing Age Discrimination in the Workplace

Pnina Alon-Shenker
Photo by Mark Blinch

Dr. Pnina Alon-Shenker
Associate Professor, Law & Business, Ted Rogers School of Business Management
Founding Academic Director, Ryerson Law & Business Clinic

To what extent do employers have to accommodate the age-related needs of older workers? Is it lawful for an organization to dismiss a senior employee in the interest of cutting costs?

Dr. Pnina Alon-Shenker researches age discrimination in the workplace and the ways in which contemporary legal analyses apply to such situations.

Dr. Alon-Shenker notes that people are living and staying healthy longer than any time in history. This is a positive development, but has resulted in many new challenges related to an aging workforce. Meanwhile, Dr. Alon-Shenker’s research shows that ageism and implicit bias continue to be widespread in the workplace. Though studies have shown age is a poor proxy of job performance, stereotypes continue to have a potent impact on workplace decision-making.

Dr. Alon-Shenker’s research seeks to reframe the notion of age discrimination to provide a better framework for identifying illegal instances of age discrimination in the workplace. Once the wrongs associated with age discrimination are better understood, workers, employers, unions, adjudicators and policymakers will be better equipped to tackle the challenges of the aging workforce.

Dr. Alon-Shenker’s research also examines other issues, such as whether workplace decisions should be subject to proportionality, and whether employers should be free to express opposition to unions during the organizing drive.

“Work is a major component in every person’s life,” Dr. Alon-Shenker says. “The laws that govern work have substantial impact on our society, the business world, labour market, and economy. We have witnessed significant transformations in the modes of work and production under the new economy. My research explores how labour laws have evolved and how they should continue to develop in response to these changes.”

This research profile originally appeared in Think, Act, Connect: Ted Rogers School of Management Research Report 2015. To read the full report, visit Research at the Ted Rogers School of Management.