Can you spot the bias against older workers in employment ads?
Federal laws are in place to protect older workers from workplace discrimination. The laws extend to hiring practices.
However, some of the top job posting sites contain ads with age-biased language that is discouraging to older applicants.
In 2019, the AARP performed a search of potentially age-biased job postings. The nonprofit focused on three major sites: Indeed.com, LinkedIn and Monster.com, and found thousands of job postings that showed evidence of age bias. Phrases used in the advertising efforts to attract job applicants included “recent college graduate” and “digital native,” which refers to someone who grew up in the 1980s or later accustomed to using digital technology. Such terms encourage younger applicants to apply for jobs while ignoring older workers who might have the same skills and often more experienced.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) provides clear guidance concerning the terms employers should avoid when posting jobs. Certain terms like “college student” or “recent college graduate” may violate federal anti-discrimination laws. Employers may either be unaware of the laws or are simply careless in the type of content that appears in their job ads.
Some employers incorrectly believe that older employees will cost them more in payroll and benefits. However, older workers make up more than 20% of the workforce in the U.S. and it is difficult to ignore the contributions they make to the business world. A review of company policies will help an employer avoid legal missteps and ensure that the company’s job postings adhere to federal regulations regarding recruitment and hiring practices.