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Review wording of job ads for traces of bias

by on
in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

You're often pressed into service to write employment ads for new job openings. But you may not be aware that a few poorly chosen words could open up the organization to a discrimination claim.

For example, see if you can recognize the three problems with the following ad: "Waiters/busboys. Looking for energetic, recent H.S. grad to work midnight shift at 24-hour restaurant. Great potential for growth. Apply in person or via mail to Ms. Willis, 100 Columbia Way. EOE."

Using age as job-selection criterion ("recent H.S. grad"). That violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. While age can sometimes be a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ), as in the case of airline pilots, no court would agree that age is a BFOQ for such a restaurant job.

Specifying gender. The terms "waiter" and "busboy" are not gender neutral and could be viewed as discriminatory. Instead, use "wait staff" and "buspersons."

Requiring a high school diploma. That might be seen as discriminatory because it could be argued that a diploma is not a BFOQ for this job.

Here is how a safer version would read:

"Restaurant night crew. 24-hour restaurant looking for wait staff and buspersons to work midnight shift. Great potential for growth. Apply in person or via mail to Ms. Willis, 100 Columbia Way. EOE."

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