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Digital Ads Found to Discriminate Against Women and Older Workers

October 28th, 2019
older female employee

Digital discrimination has come to the forefront thanks to a recent decision by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). When asked to investigate complaints of widespread age and gender discrimination in Facebook ads, the EEOC concluded that seven organizations violated discrimination laws when seeking new employees. What makes the decision particularly noteworthy is that a slew of complaints against other corporate entities had also made its way to the EEOC, suggesting future rulings and potential plaintiff settlements.

Understanding Digital Discrimination

In an age where Facebook has become part of modern society, employers often use the social media platform to showcase job openings and search for talent. Leaning on Facebook’s algorithm, the employers can easily target specific users, ensuring the advertisements are seen by people most apt to fit position qualifications. However, the algorithm inevitably allows hiring companies to shut out certain people from seeing the advertisements. In the case of the EEOC complaints, the ads in question were set up so people 55 years and older, as well as women, would never know about them through Facebook.

The employers claimed that whittling down their intended audiences is simply a way to narrow their focus. In the eyes of the EEOC, Facebook violated civil rights laws by offering employers a method to discriminate based on certain factors, including the age and gender of job seeker. Both age and gender are protected classes as defined by acts and laws on the books, noted the EEOC in its decision ruling.

The Changing Face of Facebook and Job Hunting

Until this point, no ruling has made such a widespread impact regarding the topic of digital discrimination as it pertains to the hiring process. Facebook has been sued and accused in the past for alleged discrimination in its job postings, but the EEOC’s declaration may be a watershed moment. After the EEOC’s decision, job ads posted on online forums, such as Facebook, may be under greater scrutiny. To its credit, Facebook announced a decision to revise its algorithms to avoid enabling possible discrimination in the future by not letting companies target job postings against individuals in protected groups. Although other social media sites have not been named in this circumstance, they may also be moved to make changes based on the new findings.

Can Job Seekers Who Claim Digital Discrimination Sue?

It can be difficult to know how many people have been affected by not being able to see job postings that might interest them. In fact, proving a negative has its uphill challenges. Nevertheless, some people may feel their case regarding personal experiences with digital discrimination is strong enough to talk discretely with an attorney. The first order of business when complaining about any kind of discrimination is filing with the EEOC; parties may move on to civil litigation if they and their attorneys find the evidence is strong enough.

Montgomery County Employment Discrimination Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Help Victims of Digital Discrimination in the Workplace

If you were a victim of digital discrimination, contact a Montgomery County employment discrimination lawyer at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Call us at 215-569-1999 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, northeast Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County.

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