You want a recent graduate for a new position, so you state that in the job posting. Then you find out you face an age discrimination lawsuit from someone you have never even met. Sound far-fetched? It could happen.
As an employer, you will naturally have an ideal candidate in mind. Yet, you need to set it aside if based on anything other than their skills.
Employment law does not just prohibit employers from discriminating against current employees. It bars them from doing so against people that might like to work for the company. You cannot discriminate against people because they belong to particular protected classes, age being one of those classes.
What is wrong with saying you want a recent graduate?
Yes, people could graduate aged 75, but that is probably not who you are after. A recent graduate will typically be in their early to mid-20s. Hence anyone older may feel you are saying you are not interested in them. If you said you wanted someone with a Bachelor’s, that would be a more neutral way of phrasing your request. You still describe the qualification you require but remove the age bias that “recent graduate” suggests.
Many job adverts have used ageist wording for years. For example, “To join an energetic young team “ suggests to Magda, the 55-year-old whose kids have finally left home, that there is no point applying.
“You should be a digital native,” instantly tells Albert, who grew up calling from a landline that he is unwelcome.
If you face age discrimination litigation, seek legal help to understand your options. Better still, get help to ensure people could never interpret your recruitment wording and policies as discriminatory before it becomes an issue.