Is it still age discrimination to be sacked because you're over 100?

Published: 22 August 2016 Image credit: West Australian


At what age does if become okay to sack someone, because they’re getting too old? Well, the magic number apparently is 102.

A 102-year-old ecologist is being forced to move out of his office at a Perth University and instead work remotely from home, following concerns for his health and wellbeing.

David Goodall, Edith Cowan University honorary research associate for the Centre of Ecosystem Management, was made a member of the Order of Australia this year and is the country’s oldest working scientist.

According to the University, there are risks associated with Dr Goodall’s travel to and from work as well as concerns for his general wellbeing.

Currently, Dr Goodall travels to the Joondalup campus at least four days a week, making the 90-minute commute by catching two buses and a train.

Vice-Chancellor Steve Chapman said the institute aims to minimise these risks and had contacted Dr Goodall’s family for its opinion.

"David will always be welcome at ECU and we will make travel arrangements, at no cost to him, to attend pre-arranged meetings and events,” Mr Chapman said.

"His honorary appointment expires this December and we look forward to renewing this for another three years in recognition of the many contributions he has made, and continues to make, in the field of ecology.”

Mr Goodall’s daughter Karen Goodall-Smith, said the move would rob her father of his independence and mental wellbeing.

"I said it would be the worst thing you (the University) could possibly do, I don't know if he would survive it," she said.

"After everything he has contributed, for them to do that, I'm appalled."

Edith Cowan University has just renewed Dr Goodall’s honorary professor position for a further three years, but he will still have to work from home.

However, he doesn’t have room in his one bedroom unit for an office and will have to find a substitute space.

The Dean of the School of Sciences, Andrew Woodward, said the university would provide him with a printer and computer.

"When he needs to come or he would like to come on campus for meetings or to interact with other staff and students he won't bear any cost for that, we'll arrange that transport for him,” he said.

It is understood during Dr Goodall’s 70-year career he has worked in five continents and authored more than 130 scientific works.