Ads Seeking “Digital Natives” May Evidence Age Discrimination

According to a recent article, employers may be finding new ways to mask age discrimination in hiring – namely, by advertising and/or stating a preference for so-called “digital natives.”

A “digital native” – as opposed to a “digital immigrant” – has been defined as “a person who was born just before during or after the general introduction of digital technologies and through interacting with digital technology from an early age, has a greater understanding of its concepts.” Many articles, such as this one and this one, explore the concept.

Federal, state, and local law prohibits discrimination based on age in connection with (among other things) hiring.

For example, the New York City Human Rights Law provides (in relevant part) that it is an unlawful discriminatory practice

For any employer, labor organization or employment agency or an employee or agent thereof to declare, print or circulate or cause to be declared, printed or circulated any statement, advertisement or publication, or to use any form of application for employment or to make any inquiry in connection with prospective employment, which expresses, directly or indirectly, any limitation, specification or discrimination as to age … or any intent to make any such limitation, specification or discrimination. [NYC Admin. Code § 8-107(1)(d)]

While it is difficult to prove that an employment decision was based on an impermissible factor, such advertisements may (in appropriate circumstances) constitute evidence of discrimination.

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