Thankfully the past few years have involved much discussion about the need for, and the benefits of inclusion and diversity in the workplace. It is wonderful hear of people with disabilities and people from traditionally marginalised backgrounds being finally offered true equality of opportunity in the work place.
Employers are more aware of the Employment Equality Acts 1998 -2011, and of the fact that it is unlawful and not tolerated to discriminate against people on the basis of:
-Race or origins
-Membership of the Traveller Community
All employers must be careful not to indirectly discriminate, and some workplaces may have an unconscious bias against older people.
A lot of companies that laud their own diversity, will in the next breath describe themselves as ‘young and dynamic’ or as having a ‘fun, young team’. Let’s think about how that description might make an older candidate for a job feel on the back foot.
Job advertisements should be objective in their description of what they are seeking in candidates. Language such as ‘a good cultural fit’ is necessarily against the spirit of diversity, and quite likely to be found discriminatory if older people are not part of the existing culture. Similarly, it is risky for employers to seek a ‘recent graduate’ or ‘a digital native’ or to specify a maximum number of years experience (as it would be hard to justify why someone with more experience could not fulfill the role).
The employer must consider the actual requirements for the role. Unnecessary requirements for a degree could amount to indirect discrimination against those who came of age prior to free third level education.
Other traps for employers include seeking dates of secondary education or dates of birth on application forms. This information is not relevant to how somebody will carry out their role.
When recruiting, employers should look objectively at what they want their new hire to be able to do and what are the actual requirements for the job.
This article is for information purposes only, and is not intended to be relied upon as legal advice. Fitzsimons Redmond is happy assist you in drafting job adverts or to advise on your particular employment law needs. Please contact us on 01-6763257
By Lisa Quinn O’Flaherty
Solicitor at Fitzsimons Redmond