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How to recognize age discrimination when looking for a job

The stereotypical situation involving any kind of employment discrimination happens at work, but did you know it can also occur even before a company hires you? You can face discrimination during the job-hunting process, from reading about positions to interviewing for one.

Sometimes, it is obvious when a potential employer discriminates based on your race, religion or gender identity. However, one area that is harder to recognize during this stage is age discrimination. Knowing what to look for can help you avoid working at a discriminatory place and know when you may have a lawsuit.

Job descriptions

The first part of finding a job is going through listings. Each post describes what the position entails, what the company is seeking and what qualifications candidates need to have to apply. These are all fair details to include.

However, California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing says that information can cross over into discrimination when it targets a specific age group and excludes others. Examples include the following phrases:

  • Recent college graduate or new grad
  • College age
  • Digital native
  • Energetic and vibrant
  • Young and attractive (even just "attractive" can imply youth)

A sneaky way a company may discriminate is by limiting how much experience applicants can have, such as three to five years, as younger workers tend to have less experience than older ones. Even job sites can be discriminatory by limiting the year selection for dates such as your first job, reports NPR.

Interview questions

If you make it to the interview phase, watch out for inappropriate questions that may reveal or reference your age. For example, the interviewer cannot ask when you graduated or if you would have a problem working under younger managers. The only acceptable question is if you are the legal age for the position, which you may have to prove after the company has hired you.

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