Advise client to remove gender-specific language from employment ad


The following questions were submitted by the Dearborn County Register (Lawrenceburg), North Vernon Sun and North Vernon Plain Dealer: 

Two years is sufficient amount of time to save paperwork claims 

Q: We keep hard copies of the Publisher’s Claims, along with any paperwork associated with the ad. Is there a set number of years that we should keep them? I just don’t want to start purging files too early.

A: Most laws have a two-year statute of limitations to challenge an action taken by a government agency. That’s the time period I recommend you keep those records.

Advise client to remove gender-specific language from employment ad

Q: A discussion has arisen regarding an ad placed by a cleaning company seeking a dependable “lady” for work in a factory setting.  If this ad is discriminatory, is the newspaper in any way liable?  I know housing regulations are different than employment ads, but this particular position could be filled by either a man or a woman, so should the ad just state “person” to join our team, rather than “lady?”

A:You are correct that the job is not gender-specific. I recommend that you have them remove the reference to “lady” to protect themselves from a potential civil rights complaint.

You also are correct that the liability for the newspaper is different if discriminatory language is published concerning an employment ad or a real estate ad. With an employment ad, newspaper isn’t liable for the language unless it was involved in the drafting of the ad wording. With Fair Housing Act though, newspaper is liable, even if all you did was accept and publish the ad.

 With employment ads, it is still good to do what you are doing – protect your client from hurting him/herself with improper language in the ad.

Send your questions to Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel,