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Lawsuit Filed Against Facebook Ads That Exclude Older Workers

T-Mobile, Amazon, Cox Communications and ten others are being sued by several workers and a large union based on their Facebook ad practices.

At the heart of the lawsuit is the allegation that Facebook allows job advertisers to target age groups and exclude workers over 40 years of age. Such practices are asserted to be in violation of state and federal laws prohibiting discrimination based on age. Allegations pertaining to T-Mobile show that it used Facebook ads to target “people ages 1-38 who live or were recently in the United States.”  Older workers do not learn of the discrimination because they never see the job openings. Facebook has also been accused of targeting job ads to people ages 21-55; a screen shot included in the legal filing reflects this target.

Facebook has defended its use of age targeting, claiming that the individual ads are part of “broader-based recruitment efforts designed to reach all ages and all backgrounds.” The company asserts that it is the equivalent of running employment ads in magazines and TV shows targeted at younger or older people. Critics respond that online ads targeting certain groups exclude people in ways they can never find out about whereas anyone can buy the magazine or watch television. Attorneys in the lawsuit have stated that they are seeking class action status and expect to add more defendants.