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Are your employment ads screaming, ‘Sue me now!’?

by on
in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

You’re a business owner—not a lawyer or professional writer. But it may fall on your shoulders to write employment ads whenever a new job opening crops up.
Advice: You may not be aware that a few poorly chosen words could open up the company to a discrimination lawsuit. 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 a job-selection criterion (“recent H.S. grad”).
That violates the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Age can sometimes be a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ), as in the case of airline pilots. But no court would agree that age is a BFOQ for such a restaurant job.
Specifying gender (“busboy” or “waiter”).
Those terms 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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