Job Postings May Be ‘Open Invitation’ for Age Discrimination Lawsuits

As states begin to reopen, so will the many businesses that had recently furloughed or laid off their workers. The rehiring process that comes next is very crucial for many of these establishments. Ensuring that they aren’t discriminating specific groups from job opportunities doesn’t just have to do with selecting the hire but rather starts with properly wording their job postings.

Our very own of counsel, Steven Mitchell Sack, discussed age discrimination and how it is likely one of the most prevalent and overlooked biases in a recent Forbes article. However, if the potential discrimination is captured in writing, it may make it easier to prove. He noted that the “… Age Discrimination in Employment Act generally makes it unlawful to include age preferences, limitations, or specifications in job notices or advertisements…”. So, if a job posting is considering placing a limit on experience, it could be a red flag that may potentially result in an age bias lawsuit. By putting specific preferred criteria into writing, these potential discriminatory job advertisements become direct evidence and could potentially be backed up by the firm’s hiring statistics if the average of recent hires were younger.

Even big names, such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, had to settle a recent lawsuit for having allegedly discriminated its job applicants based on age when they were accused of mainly filling job postings via college campus recruiting limiting accessibility for older workers. The class action lawsuit was resolved for $11.6 million. Employers are urged to be very specific when it comes to describing their ideal candidate for the position and avoid using limits on “experience” as a way to field out candidates. If a company is only able to offer “x” amount for the position, or prefer a less experienced employee to train them from scratch, they should say so, otherwise they may be suggesting they are only looking for younger hires and leave themselves open to scrutiny.

Our firm, Fitapelli & Schaffer, LLP, has had success representing clients who have experienced age discrimination, as well as other biases in the workplace. If you are concerned about your rights as an employee or have recently tried to apply for job that had questionable criteria call us for a free and confidential consultation at (212) 300-0375. You can also view the Forbes article here.