(CBS Local) — A lawsuit filed against Amazon, T-Mobile, and hundreds of other groups is accusing those companies of using Facebook to discriminate against older Americans looking for jobs.
The complaint, filed on Dec. 20 by the Communications Workers of America labor union, claims Facebook users over the age of 40 were excluded from seeing job ads from certain companies. Job postings were allegedly tailored for younger users and restricted visibility to people outside of predetermined age ranges.
“It’s blatantly unlawful,” employment discrimination lawyer Debra Katz told reporters from ProPublica and The New York Times.
Lawyers for the group suing the corporate giants cited T-Mobile’s job ads which stated they wanted to reach people between 18 and 38-years-old. Amazon also posted Facebook ads that allegedly restricted who could see them, with filters for people “ages 18-54,” “ages 18 to 50,” “ages 28 to 55,” and “ages 22 to 40.”. T-Mobile and Amazon both refused to comment on the lawsuit however, Amazon released a statement claiming it had “corrected those ads” which were “inconsistent” with their hiring practices.
Facebook is defending the use of targeted advertising on their platform. “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,” Facebook vice president Rob Goldman said.
Legal experts are now questioning whether Facebook is liable for helping the defendants potentially violate the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, which prohibits bias against workers 40 or older who are seeking employment. Several jurisdictions consider assisting another person or group in age discrimination as a crime. “They may have an obligation there not to aid and abet an ad that enables discrimination,” said Cliff Palefsky, a San Francisco employment lawyer added.