The law recognizes two types of employment discrimination claims: intentional discrimination and disparate impact (whether the hiring standards applied have a disparate impact on a protected group). To avoid such claims, it is important to have well-documented justifications for the legitimacy of all hiring and employment decisions.
To avoid hiring or employment decisions that may have a disparate impact on a protected class, those making recommendations or decisions on initial appointments should carefully consider the standards they apply to determine whether there is any alternative standard that would not have such an effect. If there is no alternative standard available, then they must be able to demonstrate that the standard applied is job-related and consistent with business necessity.
For instance, it is legitimate to require a successful candidate to have a particular kind of experience or training that reflects a certain philosophy or theory. If that philosophy or theory happens to be current or recent (such as deconstructionist theory), the result may be that only those with recent training and experience (who are often younger) are qualified for the position. As long as that requirement can be justified by the needs of the hiring department or college, there is no other standard that could be used as an alternative, and it is not a pretext for hiring only "recent graduates" who are likely to be younger, it should be legitimate.