Union sues over Facebook job ads that exclude older people

Meanwhile, a few weeks, ago a Verizon ad on Facebook to recruit applicants for a unit dealing with financial planning and analysis showed a smiling, millennial-aged woman seated at a computer and promised that new hires could look forward to a rewarding career in which they would be "more than just a number".

Some relevant numbers were not immediately evident. This, legal experts said may be in violation of the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.

However, Facebook has defended it by saying used responsibly the age-based targeting used for employment purposes is an acceptable industry practice for good reason as it helps the employer to recruit, while allowing people of all ages to find employment.

Now there's debate over whether that violates the 1968 Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

For example, it spoke with a social media strategist in his 50s who wasn't shown an ad for a job in his field at HubSpot, but the same ad was shown to younger users. Employers such as Verizon, Amazon, Goldman Sachs, and Target have all purchased ads limited to certain age groups, according to the investigation.

Other tech companies also offer employers opportunities to discriminate by age. "We removed them and when that was not totally effective, we disabled that targeting section in our ad systems", Sandberg wrote in a blog post. Google, however, said that it would not stop advertisers from displaying ads based on the user's age. Propublica managed to buy job ads excluding those 40 and over on Google and LinkedIn, with the latter claiming it had changed its system when it was notified of the buys.

The complaint alleged that Amazon, T-Mobile and Cox Communications have put age limits on individuals who are able to see ads meant for job recruitment.

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The complaint also included various images of these recruitment ads which when clicked would open a screen that targets the particular age group. "We completely reject the allegation that these advertisements are discriminatory".

The story was first reported jointly by The New York Times and ProPublica.

Neither Facebook or ProPublica immediately responded to our request for comment.

Moreover, it is considered a crime in many United States jurisdictions to "aid" or "abet" age discrimination, a provision that could apply to companies like Facebook that distribute such age-based job ads. But this obscures an important distinction.

Edelstein, who lives in St. Louis, spends most of his days scouring sites like LinkedIn and Indeed and pitching hiring managers with personalized appeals. "Until we can better ensure that our tools will not be used inappropriately, we are disabling the option that permits advertisers to exclude multicultural affinity segments from the audience for their ads", C.O.O.

"You're seeing this ad because Amazon Fulfillment Jobs wants to reach people ages 18 to 54 who live or were recently near Silver Spring Maryland", read a recruitment ad. But as job searches have migrated online in recent years, the situation has worsened due to ad-targeting categories, the plaintiffs argue. Others said targeting workers by age was a mistake, and vowed to stop doing it.

Facebook's targeted ad tools have landed it in hot water again. They are only visible to users of a certain age group, and selectively exclude older workers from seeing the ads, an investigation has revealed.

  • Rita Burton