Most of us think of college students as young people between the ages of 18 and 22. But today’s campuses are full of people of all ages, including students returning to school after they’ve raised children, left the military or been laid off.
If you have a robust college-student recruiting program, make sure you consider students from all age groups for your open positions—co-op and internship programs, too. That way, other employees can’t point to your college-student recruiting program as direct evidence of age bias.
Recent case: Zea Deeb went to work for Old Navy when she was in her 40s. When she didn’t get a promotion, she sued, alleging that the real reason was that she was older and wouldn’t be in the workforce as long as a younger candidate.
She pointed out that the clothing retailer had an extensive college-student recruiting program from which it hired many new managers. That, she said, was direct evidence of age discrimination.
The court disagreed. It said Deeb could offer no evidence that Old Navy recruited only young college students and graduates. (Deeb v. Old Navy, No. 8:07-CV-2201, MD FL, 2009)
Advice: Track your college-student recruitment job-fair efforts. Be prepared to show you considered all who stopped at your booth and expressed interest. Don’t send signals to your recruiters that you are interested only in young people. Include diverse faces in your recruiting materials to show that you employ people across the workforce spectrum.
Expand your recruiting hours to include some evenings, too. Many older students work during the day and attend college part time at night. Students like those are more likely to attend college fairs held before evening classes begin.
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