Employers recognize that older workers can be valuable members of their workforce. Still, employers might post job advertisements that unintentionally discriminate against these older workers.
If a worker believes they were denied the opportunity to apply for a job based on their age, they might file a lawsuit that can cause irreparable harm to the employer’s reputation and pocketbook.
Age discrimination in job advertisements and the law
Under California law, employers are prohibited from denying employment to a job applicant age 40 or older based wholly or in part on the applicant’s age.
The law presumes that even a facially neutral practice can result in age discrimination if it adversely impacts the applicant and there is no business necessity for the age restriction.
These restrictions also apply to job advertisements. Employers cannot show a preference for hiring workers under age 40 in job advertisements that are published in the media, submitted to job agencies or issued in other types of job announcements.
What does this mean for employers?
These age discrimination laws mean employers must tread carefully when advertising for jobs.
For example, a job advertisement generally cannot state that experienced workers need not apply or ask that job applicants be “digital natives.” Job advertisements cannot be based on stereotypes associated with a person’s age.
Still, grey areas exist. What if the language of a job advertisement is unintentionally and implicitly ageist? Depending on the circumstances, such ads might not explicitly break the law. Still, they could discourage older applicants from applying for the job, which could still result in an age discrimination lawsuit.