Woman turned down for job for 'not being young enough'

Maria Nielsen, 37, was told by one potential employer that she is too old to work in a barbershop.

A 37-year-old mum eager to re-enter the workforce has received a devastating first blow after a prospective employer told her she wasn't eligible for the job due to her age.

Maria Nielsen has worked several casual jobs and run her own online business since giving birth to her first child in December 2019. However, with her two daughters now older, she is ready for a permanent role.

"My youngest is now two-years-old and is not affected by daycare sickness anymore so I thought it was the perfect time to get back into barbering again," the Sydney woman told Yahoo News Australia.

Left, the employer turned Maria Nielsen (right) down for the job via text message (left).
Mum-of-two Maria Nielsen was turned down for a job because she was deemed an inappropriate age by the employer. Source: Maria Nielsen

She explained she had "applied for a barber job in about 10 places in the last few months" but was left speechless when she received her first response back, with the reason behind the rejection "angering" Maria.

'Rude' employer apologises but rejects mum regardless

Maria shared the message exchange between herself and the male employer who started his response by apologising — before jumping right into the reason why he wouldn't consider her application.

"I'm sorry but honestly I don't want to be rude but with all my respect, as I have a lot of young clients, I'm looking for someone a bit younger to work with me, hope you don't get offended," he wrote.

Maria said the whole thing was disappointing and admitted she "never imagined" she would receive a message like that. "At first I was laughing, thinking he was being too honest, but at the same time I also got offended by it," she said.

Age discrimination is illegal in Australia

Rejecting a job applicant based on age is illegal in Australia, much like discriminating against a candidate based on their gender, race or religion.

Age discrimination is categorised into two groups labelled 'direct' and 'indirect', with Maria's experience coming under 'direct' discrimination because she has been explicitly unfairly treated because of her age. 'Indirect' discrimination occurs when a rule is the same for everyone, but unfairly impacts people of a particular age.

In NSW, compensation payable for discrimination has an upper limit of $100,000.

Maria hasn't reported the message and said she has tried to shrug off the comment, but it has made her "think more about [her] options in the future". "I want to get back into the workforce so I'm feeling fine," she said.

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