In some cases, an employer will determine that they want to hire younger workers, perhaps for their technical knowledge. They’re looking for someone who is more involved with youth culture, who understands technology and who recently graduated from school.
This can be understandable from an employment perspective, but it’s important for employers to remember that they cannot discriminate based on age. In fact, even putting this type of wording in a job posting can be problematic. If the job posting says that only recent college graduates should apply, it could be seen as a form of age discrimination. Even though older individuals could technically have recently graduated from college, the wording still suggests that the majority of candidates should be in their mid-20s.
Why is this a problem?
The issue here is the federal labor laws stipulate that employers are not allowed to discriminate against those who are 40 years old and older. They are still supposed to be given a fair chance to show that they are qualified and able to do the job. That does not mean they necessarily have to be hired – a particular younger candidate might have a greater level of relevant skills than them – but they cannot be denied a chance to apply simply because they are 40 and older. They deserve a fair opportunity.
The key, when making job postings, is to focus on the qualifications of the individual. As long as someone meets these qualifications, then they should be eligible for employment, regardless of age or any other protected class. But employers will sometimes make mistakes without even being aware of how the wording they put in their job posting is in violation of the law.
As an employer, it’s very important not to violate the rights of these potential employees, even if you didn’t intend to do so. Be sure that you know about all of the legal steps you should take and what to do if a dispute does arise.