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Job notices can't include age preferences

Age discrimination isn't always as obvious as you may assume. For instance, it's clear that discrimination is happening if a young person and an older worker both come in for an interview, but the company then tells the older worker he or she is too old for the job and hires the younger worker.

However, what if they never make it to that interview in the first place? What if the job notice or advertisement itself says that older workers should not apply?

This also is illegal. Generally speaking, unless being of a certain age is inherently needed for the job, employers are not allowed to put their preferences in their ads. They also can't post limits, like saying no one over 50 years old should apply.

This can lead to some gray areas. What if a company says that it is looking to hire recent college graduates? Technically speaking, they may be targeting anyone. You can certainly go to college and graduate at 50 years old. However, the sign also implies that they are looking for people in their early 20s, the age of the overwhelming majority of graduates.

The best way to think about this is just to remember that age and other protected classes, like gender, are the same. Employers wouldn't post an advertisement saying no women should apply, or they'd face clear claims of gender bias. The same goes for age.

Do you think you're being discriminated against in the workplace, or were you even denied a chance to join the workforce based on your age? If so, it is very important to understand all of the legal options you have.

Source: EEOC, "Facts About Age Discrimination," accessed Jan. 04, 2018

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