Ageism can take various forms in the workplace. According to a study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a different type of discrimination for those 40 and older exists in the form of initial employment want-ads.
Their findings confirm job advertisements specifically written to deter applicants age 40 and older, leading to a reduction in the number of older workers. The language of the ad represents a different form of age discrimination.
Signs of discrimination
Research reveals that specific subtle language queues in job advertisements are written to deter older workers. The study focused on three prominent stereotypes of older people, inserting language from actual job postings. Certain words and phrases reveal categories that include:
- Not ageist
- Subtly ageist
- Highly ageist
Skills in working without supervision are not considered ageist. Good communication and teamwork are more subtly ageist. According to AARP, knowledge of current industry terms and interaction with a dynamic workforce is considered highly ageist.
Stereotypes involving age are based on assumptions, particularly when it comes to learning new software and other technologies. High levels of ageism involve the requirements of being a “digital native” and possessing strong skills in social media.
Potentially ageism job ads have caught the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) attention. Officials have clarified that specific terms such as “recent graduate” and “young and energetic reveal a preference towards younger workers that seem to deny older employees the same opportunities.
The definition of “older people” has evolved as people live and work longer. However, when employers craft ads that make it clear that seniors are not welcome to apply simply because of their age. That form of discrimination may require action with the help of an attorney with specific knowledge in this area of the law.