A recent lawsuit highlights the inherent ageism of many employers when hiring or promoting. If you fall afoul of equal opportunities laws, you too might end up in court.
A group of former Starbucks employees brought the lawsuit. They allege the company had a habit of discriminating against older people when recruiting and promoting.
Words matter when it comes to discrimination
How an employer phrases a job ad is critical. For instance, these are some common phrases you see and what they are actually saying:
- Recent graduate: Someone under 25
- Young and energetic: Someone under 25
- Digital native: Someone under 40
While the ages are approximate, the message is clear: Don’t bother applying if you are “too old.”
Yet the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) forbids employers from discriminating against anyone aged 40 or over based on their age.
How should employers’ job ads look?
Companies can still outline the type of person they want. They just need to think beyond the body. Their ads should focus on:
- The qualifications you need: If, however, they mention high school qualifications, it might suggest they are looking for a recent school leaver.
- The skills you need: Being energetic is not a skill. The ability to communicate with customers professionally during times of stress is.
- The experience you need: An advertisement can ask for a minimum amount of experience, but not a maximum.
If you believe you have lost out on a job opportunity because the employer wanted someone younger, consider getting legal help. Jobs are hard to come by, and when companies overlook you for posts based on your age, getting one becomes even more challenging.