News & Politics

Facebook Ad Tools Discriminate Against Older Job Seekers, Lawsuit Claims

A potential class-action lawsuit claims that companies are using Facebook’s ad creation tools to create ads for job hunters that discriminate by age, which is against federal law. The lawsuit is not against Facebook, but against a number of companies using their tools to weed out older job hunters.

The suit, filed by the Communications Workers of America, alleges that “when Facebook’s own algorithm disproportionately directs ads to younger workers at the exclusion of older workers, Facebook and the advertisers who are using Facebook as an agent to send their advertisements are engaging in disparate treatment.”

The suit was filed Tuesday in San Francisco federal court, citing new claims to the original suit filed in December under California’s fair employment and unfair competition statutes.

The original filing was against  Amazon, Cox Media, Cox Communications, and T-Mobile, as well as hundreds of employers and employment agencies who used Facebook’s tools to filter out older job hunters when seeking to fill positions.

The new filing adds Ikea, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and the University of Maryland Medical System to the list of companies that are accused of using Facebook’s tools to filter by age.

Amazon, T-Mobile, IKEA, Cox, Facebook, and Enterprise have not commented. The University of Maryland said that they do not discriminate in hiring and recruiting and that they follow all local, state and federal laws.

The union also accused Facebook of using age-filtering in ads for its own hiring.

Facebook Vice President of Advertisements Rob Goldman said, “Facebook tailors our employment ads by audience” and “we completely reject the allegation that these advertisements are discriminatory.”

Goldman said that Facebook helps educate their advertisers about their legal responsibilities and requires that they certify they are complying with the law. “Used responsibly, age-based targeting for employment purposes is an accepted industry practice and for good reason: it helps employers recruit and people of all ages find work, ” he said. He noted that age-targeted employment ads are often placed in magazines and during TV shows favored by people of certain ages.