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Companies accused of using social media to skirt labor law

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits employers in California and the rest of the country from discriminating against job applicants who have reached the age of 40. However, the results of an investigation conducted by ProPublica and the New York Times indicates that some of the nation's largest corporations are using social media to skirt the landmark 1967 law. According to the study, companies including Amazon, Target, Verizon and Goldman Sachs use the demographic filters offered by ad platforms from Facebook and Google to ensure that older job seekers are unable to view their help wanted advertising.

The recent investigation does not mark the first time that Facebook's demographic filters have been scrutinized by ProPublica. In November 2016, Facebook revised its guidelines to prevent advertisers from excluding racial and ethnic groups in the wake of a ProPublica probe, but the social media giant reacted more defiantly to the latest allegations.

A senior Facebook executive said that the practice of targeting help wanted advertising to certain demographic groups was well established, and he added that using the filters offered by social media platforms was not unlike advertising job vacancies in magazines that attract older or younger readers. However, the networking company LinkedIn responded to the investigation by announcing that it would no longer allow recruiters to screen their target audiences based on age.

Attorneys with experience in workplace discrimination cases may scrutinize recruitment policies when employers have been accused of violating federal or state labor laws. Legal counsel could point out discriminatory advertising practices to help establish that workers have been treated unfairly or denied positions that they were qualified to fill. This kind of evidence could also be used to show that employers nurtured hostile work environments.

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