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Does Your Small Business Pass the Age-Inclusive Policies and Practices Checklist?

According to USA Today, 10,000 baby boomers reach 65 everyday. It is a trend that started in 2011 and shows no signs of slowing. It is expected to continue until the year 2029. Currently there are 18,376 age discrimination cases filed with the Unites States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). As the issue of age bias gains more momentum, a tsunami of litigation has hit the courts against hundreds of employers who have used recruitment ads on Facebook, LinkedIn and other platforms discriminating against older workers(New York Times). In working with small businesses and medium-sized employers, we can show you how to avoid discriminatory hiring practices and mitigate risk by developing age-inclusive policies and practices that work.

Restaurant Chain Pays Millions to Settle Age Discrimination Claims

Recently a renowned nationwide restaurant chain, Seasons 52, agreed to pay a $2.85 million dollar settlement last year as well as hire a monitor to prevent further age discrimination. Statements by hiring managers according to some of the 139 applicants involved in the case, included “that the restaurant was looking for younger people” and “We are not looking for old white guys.” One applicant applied for a bartending position, she was 44 years old at the time, was told by the manager in Schaumberg, IL., “that they wanted people who were more green.”

While the EEOC case against Seasons 52 is a great reminder to review current hiring and recruitment policies, small businesses should also ensure they eliminate any discrimination towards a protected class under the current anti-discrimination laws. The ADEA (Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967) applies to employers with 20 or more employees and include state, local and federal governments, employment agencies and labor organizations. While assessing recruitment and hiring policies, also consider an evaluation of internships, referral and apprentice programs. With more baby boomers delaying retirement some are considering a change in occupation and more employers will begin to see an increase in older workers applying for internships, retraining programs and co-ops.

Another review should also be given to social media recruitment efforts. Remove social media recruitment ads targeted towards applicants of a specific age group, and reword the ad to show an age-inclusive job posting.

When implementing age-inclusive policies or assessing current hiring policies, use the following guidelines to keep compliant with the ADEA:

  • Ensure that all job advertisements, whether print, social media sites or online job boards, exclude age preferences, age limitations or occupation specifications.

  • Ensure that social media recruitment ads are not targeted to a specific age group and can be seen by everyone regardless of age on SM platform feeds.

  • Use language that encourages applicants of all ages to apply.

  • Avoid requests for graduation or birth dates on application materials.

  • Post salary ranges for each job ad instead of requesting salary history.

  • Write company blog posts about how the organization creates an age-inclusive environment and workforce.

  • Update any brand materials with diversity and inclusion practices and be sure to update the company website with age-inclusive language.

  • Train supervisors and managers about the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967and explain that your organization prohibits age discrimination in all recruitment and hiring practices.

  • Train managers or supervisors to NOT use language that reveals age bias such as ‘green’ or ‘fresh’ or ‘recent graduate.’

  • Communicate the company’s age discrimination policy by posting it in an area where all employees will see it and by posting it on the company intranet.

  • Consider using a mixed-age interview team or panel in the selection or recruitment process.

  • Implement age discrimination policies with your internships, co-ops and employee referral programs.

  • Review procedures for evaluating job applicants and ensure that this criterion is applied to all potential candidates.

  • Review your age discrimination policy and verify that the policy addresses harassment definitions, consequences of harassment based on age, reporting procedures, claims processes and anti-retaliation conduct.