“We are looking to add a few young professionals” and an age-bias lawsuit, apparently.

Young Professionals NeededFrom a reader who wishes to be identified as “ever faithful blog lover”:

A while ago you mentioned ads with “digital native” as being a cover for trying to recruit “young” folks and being an ADEA violation… so what do you think of an ad that says (twice) “Young professionals” wanted? LOL That’s not even a cover! See attached…

[Editor’s Note: Here is a SHRM article about the possible age bias concerns with companies seeking to hire “digital natives.” Here is a redacted version of the attached ad; the highlighting is mine too.]

What do I think about an ad that says (twice) “Young professionals” wanted? On its face, not unlawful. But, dayum if that isn’t inviting an age discrimination claim. All its going to take is one candidate over 40, who satisfies the objective job requirements and subjectively views himself/herself as otherwise qualified, to get passed over. In that case, regardless of whether age motivates the hiring decision, that’s going to be the perception. And, even the perception of discrimination can result in an EEOC Charge. I’ve been known to defend those cases.

So, learn from this. Make sure, in addition to training your inward-facing workforce on EEO matters, that your recruiters and talent acquisition folks understand the do’s and don’ts (e.g., this), when hiring new employees, young or old.