Last December, an investigative report by ProPublica and the New York Times, along with a lawsuit filed the same day by the Communications Workers of America, alleged that dozens of companies were discriminating against older job candidates by targeting their job ads on Facebook to users within specific age demographics, in what the plaintiffs in the suit say is a violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. The companies mentioned in the report included Verizon, UPS, and State Farm, while the lawsuit initially named Amazon, T-Mobile, and Cox Media Group specifically, along with “hundreds of other large employers and employment agencies,” identified in the lawsuit as a defendant class.
In an amended complaint filed last week, the union named other individual companies it said were engaging in this allegedly discriminatory practice, including Capital One, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Ikea, and Facebook itself, along with several others. These companies are not named defendants in the suit, but are given as examples of large employers that have advertised jobs on Facebook and specified that these ads only be shown to users within a certain age range. The CWA also filed a complaint against Facebook with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in January, and says it has filed similar complaints against dozens of employers, Bloomberg’s Josh Eidelson reported on Tuesday.
Facebook and other companies have defended the practice of age-targeting social media ads, comparing it to running an ad in a magazine targeted toward younger or older people. Critics, however, reject this comparison, arguing that a person over the age of 45 can buy a copy of Teen Vogue if they wish, but cannot see a Facebook ad targeted specifically to users younger than them.