EEOC rules against Facebook advertisers in landmark case

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission handed down a decision against seven companies that had been posting discriminatory job advertisements on Facebook. Discrimination complaints were filed in 2018 alleging that 66 companies had been posting Facebook ads that were only visible to men and young workers. The people who filed the complaints claimed that the ads were discriminatory toward older workers and women. Tennessee employers may be interested to learn that the EEOC ruled against seven of the companies, with most of the other cases still pending.

According to an attorney representing the workers, the decision is historic and demonstrates that civil rights are enforceable in digital recruiting and advertising. The EEOC made its decision in July 2019 and released it to the public in September 2019. The employers who were ruled against purchased Facebook ads for job openings and targeted them so that they were not visible to women or people over the age of 55. Among the positions that were advertised were window installer and truck driver.

The arguments of the companies included that they were legally allowed to target prospective employees based on demographics as long as their hiring strategy overall did not exclude people in protected classes. The EEOC did not buy that argument, instead saying that the ads violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the Civil Rights Act. The decision represents the first major ruling involving digital platform discrimination.

Employers in Tennessee are required by law to use fair hiring practices. Therefore, employees or prospective employees may have claims for damages if they are denied opportunities based on a protected characteristic. An attorney who handles workplace discrimination cases might help a victim by examining the specifics of the case and negotiating settlement terms with the employer. In cases that cannot be settled, a lawyer might draft and file a complaint for damages in civil court.

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