A lot has been written about the millennial generation and how they will affect the work force. Some view Millennials as entitled or lazy, while others value their fresh ideas, creativity and technological savvy. It would make sense that business owners who see value in millennial workers would make a concerted effort to recruit them. Sounds good; except doing so could be a violation of federal law and land the business in hot water.
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), among other areas in business where discrimination is outlawed:
“It is also illegal for an employer to recruit new employees in a way that discriminates against them because of their race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.”
The EEOC is one of many government agencies that businesses owner should pay close attention to. Penalties from the EEOC or lawsuits resulting from a discrimination claim can be enormous. While it might make sense for your business to recruit younger workers for various reasons, it is certainly not worth the risk of a claim being made.
Many businesses have tried to recruit younger workers with subtle messages in the job postings like “recent graduate” or “digital native” but these can both be seen as discriminatory. “Digital Native” can imply that a person was born during the digital age. A 50 year old worker would not be considered a “digital native”. A business owner might get the same message across by using a term like “tech savvy” which would not be connected to age or birth year in any way.
In 2013 Facebook was sued over a job posting that said “class of 2007 or 2008 preferred.” It was quite obvious here that age discrimination was being used here. Another big name, Google, has been in the news for age discrimination in recruiting as well. They have been sued by 64 year old Florida man with experience working for IBM, Compaq and General Dynamics who claims in the lawsuit that “persons age 40 or older are systemically excluded from positions for which they are well-qualified. The end result of Google’s pattern and practice of age discrimination is a workforce with a median age of 29.”
As a business owner you need to be careful. Millennials can bring a lot of positives with them to the workforce, but targeting them specifically in your recruiting efforts could land you in a lot of trouble. Make sure you recruit for the skills and qualifications needed for your open positions, not the age you want your employees to be.
For further information on recruiting, please reach out to Genesis HR Solutions at AskUs@genesishrsolutions.com or 800-367-8367.
Genesis HR Solutions is the premier PEO provider for Massachusetts based businesses.