EEOC sides with workers alleging Facebook job ads discriminate

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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has issued a groundbreaking decision concerning complaints of discrimination against employers that used Facebook advertising to discriminate against women and older people. Multiple complaints filed by Facebook users against 66 companies prompted the commission to agree that the demographic targeting system within Facebook advertising tools enabled discrimination against job seekers in California and nationwide.

A lawyer representing plaintiffs in seven of the cases praised the decision of the EEOC because it affirmed that civil rights law applied on digital advertising platforms. The discrimination arose from employers setting parameters for job ads that only displayed the messages on Facebook to users who were men under the age of 55. Filtering out specific demographic segments represented violations of the Civil Rights Act and Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The decision from the EEOC could enable the workers who experienced discrimination to win settlements eventually.

Facebook initially argued against these discrimination complaints by saying that the company was not liable for what other employers did with its advertising platform. The parties accusing the company of discrimination countered by saying that Facebook had enabled the discrimination with its technology that allowed employers to filter out certain types of people on job ads. The social media giant is now in the process of settling five discrimination lawsuits against it.

Workplace discrimination can occur during the hiring process or later when a person experiences unfair treatment because of sex, race, religion, age or disability. The guidance of an attorney may inform someone about their rights under employment law and prepare the person to file a complaint with the EEOC. An attorney may be able to gather evidence that illustrates the mistreatment and financial harm caused by bigoted attitudes in the workplace. If a settlement results, then the person might collect back pay and benefits.