Seven companies, including Capitol One, posted job ads on Facebook that excluded workers based on their gender, age or both, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has ruled.
Last year, the US National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Communication Workers of America (CWA) and other private parties, filed litigation against Facebook, saying it needs to build stronger protections against job discrimination by age, gender or location.
According to a report in Vox on Wednesday, the US commission ruled against seven employers: Capital One, Edward Jones, Nebraska Furniture Mart, Enterprise Holdings, Renewal by Andersen, Drive Time Auto, and Sandhills Publishing.
The companies bought ads on Facebook to publicise job openings, but targeted them to young men, so women or people over the age of 55 who use the platform couldn’t see them.
In letters sent to each company, the EEOC found “reasonable cause” that the employer violated laws by excluding women, older workers or both from seeing their job ads on Facebook.
It’s the first major decision involving discrimination on digital platforms.
“The EEOC decision suggests that targeting digital job ads based on gender and age is also illegal,” said the report.
In a bid to avoid discrimination in ads related to housing, jobs and credits, Facebook in March announced new changes where anyone who wants to run such ads will no longer be allowed to target by age, gender or zip code.
These changes are the result of settlement agreements with leading civil rights organisations and ongoing input from civil rights experts, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg had said.
“We’re building a tool so you can search for and view all current housing ads in the US targeted to different places across the country, regardless of whether the ads are shown to you,” said the Facebook COO.