Facebook job ad filters subject of age discrimination lawsuit

Older job seekers in Tennessee might be less likely to see ads on Facebook for open positions according to allegations in a federal class-action lawsuit filed by the Communications Workers of America. The amended court filings for the union accuse Facebook of enabling companies that want to discriminate against older workers with age filters on ads. The lawsuit names large companies, including Amazon.com Inc., Cox Communications Inc., T-Mobile and Ikea as defendants.

According to the union's lawsuit, the advertisers and the ad filtering tools provided by Facebook amount to disparate treatment when they show the majority of job ads to younger people. The CWA has also complained about the practice of age filtered ads to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

A statement from Facebook rejects the accusations of discriminatory practices. The social media company claimed that it attempts to educate advertisers about their legal obligations. Facebook likens the ad filtering to other advertising platforms, like television shows and magazines, that might focus on certain demographics.

The alleged advertising practices could come under scrutiny by the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, which has requested information from Facebook about age-targeted job ads on its platform. Facebook might resist supplying this information by citing the Communications Decency Act that shields online companies from liability arising from content published by third-party users.

The tactics used by companies to engage in workplace discrimination might be difficult to detect. A person who suspects that age, race, sex, religion or national origin played a role in mistreatment at work or denial of a job or promotion might benefit from speaking with an attorney. A legal review might inform a person about the viability of filing a complaint or lawsuit against a company. An attorney may also seek a financial settlement for the client.

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