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Facebook job ads raise specter of age discrimination

Could Facebook be helping companies participate in illegal hiring practices that involve obvious age discrimination?

It certainly seems that way. At least one expert in employment and discrimination law has called the move “blatantly unlawful.”

At issue is Facebook’s ability to allow users to target ads directly to a specific demographic. This includes prospective employers who can limit ads about job opportunities so that they’re exposed only to viewers within a certain age bracket.

A number of high-profile employers, including Verizon, Target and Amazon, have already used the service. For example, Verizon ran an employment ad for financial planners and analysts — but the ad was arranged to only appear on the pages of users who were aged 25 to 36, living in the D.C. area with a demonstrated interest in financial matters. If you fell outside any of those demographics, you did not have any way to see the ad.

While restricting a job by location, degree and field of interest is acceptable — restricting applicants based on age is a violation of federal laws that are supposed to prevent hiring discrimination based on age.

Facebook isn’t the only online forum that may be guilty of helping assist in age discrimination. LinkedIn and Google have also accepted ads that excluded people of certain age groups.

However, this may change in the wake of legal challenges that are rising. The first class-action lawsuit against Facebook’s policy of allowing users to target job ads to a specific age range has been filed in federal court in San Francisco.

Anybody who believes that they’ve been a victim of workplace discrimination should seek legal advice in order to explore their options.

Source: The New York Times, “Facebook Jobs Ads Raise Concerns About Age Discrimination,” Julia Angwin, Noam Scheiber and Ariana Tobin, Dec. 20, 2017