Right now there's a ton of information available on how to attract and retain young talent. Companies are doing everything they can to bring in these tech-savvy millennials, but doesn't this mean they're leaving someone out? In this arms race for the best young minds, companies need to remember to mind their elders – otherwise your business could be facing an age-discrimination lawsuit. This type of discrimination doesn't share the same spotlight as sex or race cases in the workplace, but it's just as serious and happens more frequently than you might think.
Hiring managers and human resources departments have to be vary wary of who they hire and for what reasons. Companies should consider hiring PEO companies to work with so they can not only help find prospective employees that suit the business culture, but can also hire with full understanding of employment laws.
Here are some things to consider when it comes to age discrimination in the workplace:
Hiring specifically for "digital natives"
Fortune magazine pointed out that many companies have started to advertise specifically for "digital natives." However, this term is an issue because it's majorly associated with millennials and can discourage older applicants from looking into the job, which can easily be considered a form of age discrimination. The magazine reminisced on the 2013 lawsuit that settled an argument with California's Fair Employment and Housing Department with Facebook for posting a job ad reading "Class of 2007 or 2008 preferred." But Facebook isn't the only company or industry casting a narrow net – Apple, Yahoo, Dropbox and Zipcar all have posted help wanted ads directed at youngsters reported the source.
"They think they're not quick on a computer, or they can't learn as quickly, or you can't teach an old dog new tricks."
What's behind the discrimination
Boston.com spoke with Joan Cirillo, president and CEO of operation A.B.L.E., a nonprofit organization that helps connect older job seekers with employment or skills training. She summed up the the bias against the older workforce in the eyes of discriminatory companies succinctly.
"There are many biases that employers hold about job-seekers that are 45 and older. They think they're not quick on a computer, or they can't learn as quickly, or you can't teach an old dog new tricks." Cirillo explained.
But a recent report by the AARP says that workers over the age of 50 can offer great advantages to a company. The report found the older workforce not only brings experience, but also professionalism, knowledge and a higher retention rate. Plus these older employees can serve as mentors for the incoming younger generations who lack in professional experience, explained Boston.com.
Lawsuits currently in action
In 2009, Pittsburgh Glass Works fired about 100 employees as a part of a company-wide workforce reduction, including engineering specialist and production line supervisor Rudolph Karlo, reported HR Morning. Karlo and some of his fellow former colleagues who were all in their 50 's filed an age discrimination lawsuit saying the company was firing the older workforce to make room for a younger one. Later that year, Karlo was rehired via a subcontractor to work for the company's plants. During his part-time gig, the company approached him and explained they could bring him on full-time if he could "make the whole thing go away."
Refusing to drop the suit, Karlo was fired again. However, the manager's bribe helped Karlo's case. The Federal court jury found that the company had willfully violated federal anti-retaliation law when he was let go a second time. The jury is still out on the age-bias ruling aspect of the case, but it serves as a good warning to all HR services about how serious and draining these lawsuits can be.