While it is still a major problem, we have at least come to the point where we agree as a society that discrimination is wrong. Unfortunately, this means that, while few employers engage in overt discrimination in their hiring practices, indirect and subtle discrimination in hiring still occurs frequently. It should go without saying that if you don’t apply for a job, you will not be hired. That is why one of the chief ways that employers tend to discriminate in hiring is by advertising in ways that tend to discourage or exclude persons of certain backgrounds from ever applying.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regulations as well as state and local regulations in New York City prohibit discrimination in job advertisement and recruiting practices, making them just as actionable as other types of on-the-job discrimination. Discriminatory advertising, however, is usually subtle and can be difficult to spot:
Limiting advertising to neighborhoods with certain racial demographics
Asking for “recent college graduates”
Only advertising in certain languages
Publicizing unnecessarily high educational or physical requirements that are not reasonably job related
For example, you will rarely see a job advertisement that says something as overt as “men only” or “applicants under 30 preferred.” However, you may see an advertisement that requires applicants to be able to lift more than 50 pounds even though the job does not actually require it. This may be designed to screen out women, older applicants and applicants with disabilities.
Likewise, an advertisement that requires applicants to have a high school diploma for a job that typically does not require one may be attempting to screen out certain racial groups that have a statistically low high school graduation rate. While some employers think this type of subterfuge is sufficient to circumvent employment discrimination laws, regulators and attorneys have seen this before and are not fooled.