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How Can I Identify Discrimination in Job Postings?

If you’re seeking employment you are probably scanning job boards and recruiting websites regularly to find the right fit for you. There are several things that might make you believe you are a good fit for a job or that it is not the position for you. However, if you feel like the verbiage of the job posting is phrased in a way that intentionally discourages certain classes of people from applying, you may be witnessing discrimination. If you feel like you have faced discrimination in the workplace or have spotted discrimination in a job advertisement, reach out to a Marquette employment lawyer for assistance.

Is Discrimination Illegal in the Workplace?

Because of some unfortunate history, certain demographics are protected from discrimination in the workplace under federal law. The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) protects employees and applicants from employment discrimination based on certain characteristics including:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity
  • Religion
  • Pregnancy
  • Disability
  • National origin
  • Veteran status
  • Age

It is illegal to discriminate against people because of the above characteristics when making hiring, firing, promotion, and task assignment decisions, as well as general harassment.

What Are Some Examples of Discrimination in Job Postings?

Discrimination in a job advertisement might be obvious or use subtle language to attempt to cover the discrimination. Some examples can include the following.

  • If a job listing states that they are looking for “recent college graduates” or someone who is “youthful and vibrant” they may be attempting to discourage applicants over a certain age from applying. According to the EEOC is it illegal to discriminate against anyone over the age of 40 for their age.
  • A job advertisement that uses gendered language such as “handyman” or “policeman” can immediately alienate women. Additionally, if the listing uses he/him pronouns to describe their ideal applicant, it can cause a woman to feel as if she is unqualified for the job due to her gender.
  • Some jobs may require certain physical capabilities, such as being able to lift a certain amount of weight. However, it is important to be careful with wording. If a job post uses wording such as “looking for able-bodied individuals” it could be considered discrimination against people with disabilities. Additionally, using words like “lift” or “carry” can make some people believe that they are not qualified, when in reality they may be capable of transporting heavy things as well, just in a different way.

It is important for a job advertisement to use inclusive language that does not discourage anyone from applying because of certain characteristics. Diversity is important in a workplace and encouraging people from all backgrounds and walks of life can contribute to more efficient work and creative problem-solving.

What Should I Do if I Find Discrimination in a Job Advertisement?

If you come across a job advertisement that uses discriminatory language, report it to the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission with the company’s name and the job title. You can screenshot or print out the job listing as well.

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