Overt hiring discrimination is clearly illegal. You’re not going to find a job posting that says a company is looking to hire people in their 20s. That would be age discrimination, as it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of age against employees who are 40 years old and older. If a job posting says that someone needs to be in their 20s or 30s to apply, the company could be sued by qualified workers who aren’t being considered due to their age.
However, the illegality of this practice doesn’t mean that businesses don’t want to hire younger workers. Business owners may still be interested in doing so, whether or not it qualifies as discrimination. They just know that they can’t be obvious about it, and so they will try to hide it.
Recent college graduates
One way that employers do this is by making job postings saying they want to hire recent college graduates. These postings do not specify an age. However, some believe that they are still discriminatory because the majority of recent college graduates are in their 20s. Someone may read the job posting and be fully qualified, but it’s been 20 years since they were in college, so they don’t apply.
Another way that this happens is when employers use language like saying they’re seeking an “energetic” individual or that they want to hire a “digital native.” Both of these terms can also be code words essentially meaning that they’re looking to hire someone who is young.
Have you faced discrimination?
You can see how complicated these types of discrimination cases may become. If you’re facing discrimination in hiring or on the job, be sure you know about all the legal options at your disposal.