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“Talented, ambitious young people” and “Recent graduates”: Discriminatory ads?

by on October 10, 2014

More today on possible age discrimination. The BBC reports here that adverts on the Government’s Universal Jobmatch website, and ones on employment agency Reed’s website, may breach anti-age discrimination laws.

The ads in question, over 800 on the Reed website on behalf of hundreds of employers, say they want “recent graduates” which may imply they are looking for younger applicants. One ad posted on behalf of Leisure Leagues is even more explicit, stating: “We are always looking to recruit talented, ambitious young people who may fit well into one of our progressive thinking departments such as media, including social media, TV, press officer or other departments such as office administration.”

Leaving aside the perhaps unique positioning of office administration as a ‘progressive thinking department’, what’s the legal position?

The BBC asked James Davies, a solicitor from law firm Lewis Silkin, who specialises in age discrimination cases. He is reported as saying: “A recent graduate obviously favours younger candidates. It would be lawful if it could be justified, but it’s difficult to see why an employer needs a recent graduate when someone who graduated 10 or 20 years ago wouldn’t be equally suitable”.

Of the Leisure Leagues advert, he says: “Here we have a company which is clearly opening itself up to problems. An older person applying for a job with this company who fails to get it will be able to point to the term ‘young’ in this advert and will be some way down the line to a successful claim against them.”

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