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How can a job posting be ageist?

No matter how young you feel, it’s a fact of life that some people will consider you too old for certain things. Sometimes this is appropriate, for example, when a coach refuses to let a 19-year-old play for the under 18’s team. Other times it is inappropriate and ageist.

One place where it is often inappropriate is in employment. Yet many employers or HR teams continue to show ageism, beginning with how they phrase their job postings. They can be ageist against people who do not even work for them yet.

Language matters in job postings

Few employers are daft enough to write something like “under 30s only to apply”. Rather, they will express their age preferences through more subtle language. It might be intentional or it might be their unconscious bias coming through. Either way,  it can discourage those who are older from applying, and that could make it unlawful.

Examples include phrases like ‘We are looking for a fit and energetic person” or “Looking for a digital native to join this fun-loving team.” Many people reading that will feel the employer is targeting someone younger than them and so won’t bother applying.

In Texas, the law considers age discrimination exists from 40 upward. That is to say, if you are 39 and feel an employer or potential employer has been ageist, you cannot do much about it except tell them, as you cannot legally claim age discrimination. If you are already 40 or older, you can.

If you feel a job posting, or recruitment process was ageist you may want to explore your legal options.