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Can Facebook audience targeting lead to employer discrimination?

If you’ve ever created a Facebook ad before, you know there’s more to it than just drafting some catchy copy and publishing it online. Facebook allows you to customize your audience—a seemingly harmless concept that allows you to make sure your ad ends up in front of the people most likely to be interested in the product you’re selling. If you’re putting on a rock concert in San Antonio, for example, you probably don’t need a classical musician in Baltimore to see know about it. Facebook allows you to set your audience parameters so that your ad will only appear to the people you’re targeting.

In recent years, employers have increasingly turned to social media to advertise job openings. But what happens when an employer posts about a new position and only makes the advertisement available to Facebook users in a certain age group? Is this a form of age discrimination?

A new lawsuit asserts that it is. Some of the nation’s biggest employers—including Verizon, T-Mobile, Target, Facebook and Amazon—have recently been accused of unlawfully targeting their Facebook job announcements to candidates 40 and under. The plaintiffs allege that the employers’ use of age parameters excluded older applicants from being notified about job opportunities in their industries. They are aiming to turn the case into a class-action lawsuit, which other victims of similar discrimination (from these or other companies) would be able to join.

If you believe you have been the victim of social media-based age discrimination, talk to an attorney experienced in employment law about how to join this suit.

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