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EEOC rules that employers' Facebook ads were discriminatory

A string of recent rulings by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that seven companies that posted targeted employment ads on Facebook violated federal civil rights laws. The rulings make clear that it is illegal for companies to exclude certain demographics when advertising jobs in the San Francisco Bay Area and around the country.

The ads came to light two years ago when an investigation by ProPublica and the New York Times found that various companies were using Facebook's advertising targeting tools to prevent women and older workers from seeing their employment postings. Following the report, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Communications Workers of America and others filed discrimination complaints with the EEOC. The agency investigated the claims and came to the conclusion that the companies acted illegally by excluding certain applicants.

The EEOC issued age discrimination citations to Capital One, Edward Jones, Enterprise Holdings and DriveTime Automotive Group. It also issued age and gender discrimination citations to Furniture Mart, Renewal by Andersen and Sandhills Publishing Company. The companies now have the option of going to court or negotiating a settlement with the EEOC. According to legal experts, the EEOC rulings are the first time companies have been forced to defend the way they use Facebook's advertising targeting tools to find job applicants.

Federal and state laws prohibit employers from discriminating against workers or job applicants based on their race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age and other protected characteristics. Individuals who believe they have experienced workplace gender or age discrimination might find relief by speaking to an employment attorney about their case. The attorney might be able to gather evidence supporting a client's claim and help file a complaint with the EEOC. This action could lead to a settlement that covers back pay, lost benefits, mental anguish and other related damages.

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