Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

Age Discrimination Is Built Into Some Job Search Websites

It makes some sense that a technical gaffe caused online job sites to winnow out older workers.

The drop down menu on one job site only scrolled back to 1956 for applicants to indicate a graduation date on their resumes. Most tech workers these days weren't even born back then.

Unfortunately for the online companies, the math did not work out right for Illinois' top prosecutor. Attorney General Lisa Madigan sent letters to six job sites about the problem, which involved potential violations of the Illinois Human Rights Act and the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

"Today's workforce includes many people working in their 70s and 80s," Madigan said. "Barring older people from commonly used job search sites because of their age is discriminatory and negatively impacts our economy."

"Unfortunate Oversight"

Although some of the companies explained that applicants could manually enter any year on their websites, CareerBuilder accepted responsibility for the oversight on its drop down menu.

"CareerBuilder is committed to helping workers of all ages find job opportunities and has fixed this unfortunate oversight," said Michael Erwin, director of global corporate communications and social media for the Chicago-based job search site.

Monster, Indeed, Ladders, Vault, and Beyond were not as forthcoming. These companies are now being asked by the attorney general's office to provide all documents that explain how they selected the year indicating applicants' graduation date.

"The Age Thing"

While the website problem is recent, the age thing -- not so much. According to CBS Money Watch, the tech boom isn't for everyone.

"When it comes to the technology sector, experts say if you're over 35 or 40, you're pretty much over the hill," Steve Tobak reported. "And, if you look at the hiring practices at some of the valley's hottest Internet and social networking companies, it's hard to overlook the cold hard reality that age discrimination is prevalent."

Silicon Valley, the American heartland of techno-innovation, is behind the curve on some legal fronts. In addition to issues with age discrimination, it is already known for gender bias.

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