When a job vacancy opens, a company usually wants to fill the position without too much delay. Ads announcing employment opportunities could draw attention and receive a high volume of responses from both New Jersey residents and other applicants who border the state.
Employment postings must adhere to state and federal laws. An employer can have the best of intentions, but can nevertheless, inadvertently include verbiage that could be considered discriminatory. The written content of a job advertisement may be subtly or overtly discouraging candidates based on age and other factors that violate the law. Therefore, employers should take care in crafting an advertisement for a job opening.
The potential for discrimination in job descriptions
Job listings typically contain criteria that an applicant must meet to be considered for an open position. These required qualifications will effectively eliminate unqualified applicants. However, within the ad, subtle signs of discrimination may exist, even if the wording makes it hard to detect.
For example, certain job advertisements can discourage older people from applying for a position without regard to qualifications, resulting in potential claims of “ageism.”
What does discrimination look like in job ads?
Examples of age discrimination in job ads could look like this:
- Listing an age range for applicants, such as “ages 20-25”
- Requesting “recent graduates” or people with 5 to 7 years of experience
- Requiring a set number of years of experience rather than a specific skill set for the position
- Stating applicants must be able to lift a certain amount of weight when the job does not require it
- Including adjectives such as “energetic, active, and fun” to describe the individual
- Using wording that describes that company as “young and fun”
- Specifying that the company is looking for someone who will be a good “cultural fit”
- Asking “digital natives*” to apply.
One article on AARP.com defined a *digital native as a person who grew up using a cellphone, which according to the article is people born in 1980 or later.
Attend to detail to stay within the law
To avoid even the appearance of discriminatory practices, employers are encouraged to have a legal professional review their advertisements to ensure they meets state and federal legal requirements. While reviewers may charge a fee, the cost would be much higher should the posting be flagged as discriminatory, resulting in serious accusations that could tarnish the image of a company.
A qualified job applicant may also be hesitant to apply for a job where the employer blatantly excludes certain individuals who fall within protected classifications.