Person searching for a job online

Age Discrimination in Job Postings

More than 40 years after the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 made age discrimination in employment illegal, age discrimination in job postings is still an unfortunate reality.

“Everyone is looking to some degree for that idealized, young, energetic person who will take the company to the next level, whatever that means,” says Toby Haberkorn, author and Senior Recruiter at Ayecer Group. “Maybe we can go beyond that stereotype or that idealized candidate. For older workers, it’s hard.”

How Job Postings Can Discriminate 

Employment ads are often the first introduction a job seeker will have to a potential employer. Companies that engage in age discrimination in job postings risk excluding workers. Ageist phrases like “digital native” are among those that are very common. 

Advertisements that indicate a company is looking for young and energetic workers or use the words “rockstars” or “ninjas” can also be problematic. Visual content in job postings like photos and videos can entice job seekers to want to learn more about the company, but it could have the opposite effect.  

“If the video isn’t inclusive or representative in terms of encompassing a number of generations and it’s just young people in the video, then that is going to show age bias that may run over into the hiring process,” says Dr. Simone Phipps, Professor of Management at Middle Georgia State University, Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School’s Centre for Social Innovation and member of the PhD Project.

A buzzword that has become common in the hiring process is “culture fit.” Often ageism goes much deeper than a job posting — it can be embedded in the company’s culture and in full view on its website.

“If that word culture fit is accompanied by a picture or video in which you only see young people then an older person may feel they are not going to be welcome,” says Phipps.

READ: The Damaging Effect of Age Discrimination in the Workplace 

Is Age Discrimination Illegal?

Job postings that provide a range and cap the amount of experience needed could potentially tilt the candidate pool away from older workers in favor of younger applicants. Some job ads specifically target current college students or recent college graduates. But is the practice illegal?

“It’s not a black and white issue, but it could imply ageism since a large number of people who graduate college recently are probably on the younger side,” says Florence Mao, associate attorney at Ogletree Deakins, a labor and employment law firm. She says bias in job postings, which are called failure to hire claims, are usually harder to prove. 

“The employer is going to have all of the documents,” Mao says. “The job postings will be public, but they’re going to have the interview notes, communications about the interviews and debriefing. Then you also have to find out who they ended up hiring. That can come out in the litigation, but it is much more kind of shooting in the dark unless you know who was hired for the position.” 

To ensure job ads are not discriminatory, companies should have a team of people crafting the job posting. Companies can also make sure they are reaching the greatest range of applicants by expanding the job boards and social media platforms where they advertise openings. 

“People are living longer,” says Haberkorn. “They’re taking better care of themselves. Today’s generation of older workers continues to have significant skills and purpose that make them a real asset to the workforce.”

Subscribe to DiversityInc Best Practices to read the full article.

Latest News

Video: How Companies Are Ensuring Equity for People With Disabilities

The National Organization on Disability held its annual forum in Washington, D.C. last week, bringing together community leaders, advocates, government officials and corporate leaders and influencers to focus on the advancement of people with disabilities in the workplace. DiversityInc also met up with leaders from Capital One Financial (No. 22…

Validated Allies wallpaper

DiversityInc Announces 2022 Validated Allies

Allyship is a journey rather than a destination. The work of an ally never really ends and allies understand they are not necessarily always working toward a goal, but rather, serving a greater purpose. Each year, as part of our Women of Color and Their Allies event, DiversityInc recognizes a…

CDO Series: Sysco’s Adrienne Trimble

Following the murder of George Floyd, the role of Chief Diversity Officers has become more important as companies started to be more intentional with their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, which has made the last few years tumultuous for many CDOs. In the latest installment of a series of articles…

NOD Forum: Honoring the Disability Rights Movement

The road to disability rights has been a long one. One that started long before the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 was passed. In celebration of 40 years of the National Organization on Disability, disability leaders, supporters and activists gathered in Washington, D.C last week to discuss the…

5 Biggest News Stories of the Week: September 29

As the saying goes, the news never stops — but there’s a lot of it out there, and all of it doesn’t always pertain to our readers. In this weekly news roundup, we’ll cover the top news stories that matter most to our diversity focused audience. 1. Research Outlines Lack…

Marriott International building

Marriott International Receives 12 Platinum Honors at the MUSE Creative Awards

Originally published at news.marriott.com. Marriott International is a Hall of Fame company.   Marriott International’s unmatched portfolio of luxury brands earned 12 Platinum Awards representing 5 dynamic brands, across 10 categories in the 2022 MUSE Creative Awards — an international competition for creative professionals. The industry leader within the luxury…

Marriott International Debuts Its New Global Headquarters Focused on Wellbeing

Originally published at news.marriott.com. Marriott International is a Hall of Fame company.   After six years of planning, design and construction, Marriott International has opened its global headquarters in downtown Bethesda, Maryland. The 21-story, 785,000-square-foot, LEEDv4 Gold-certified building is the new workplace for corporate associates, supporting over 8,100 hotels in 139…