Female job seekers filed a gender discrimination complaint with the EEOC Tuesday.
Female job hunters are accusing Facebook of gender discrimination.
The social media platform is facing legal action from women who filed a gender discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Tuesday, accusing Facebook and 10 other companies of posting biased job ads.
The companies allegedly purchased ads for positions like truck drivers and window installers on Facebook, but made it so that women couldn’t see them in their news feeds. Hiding the employment ads from female job seekers is a glaring violation of the Civil Rights Act, which makes it illegal for hiring managers to discriminate against any employee or prospective employee based on their gender or race, the women claimed with support from lawyers at the American Civil Liberties Union and the Communications Workers of America.
“I’ve heard stories about when people looked for jobs in the classified ads and big bold letters read ‘help wanted-male’ or ‘help wanted-female.’ I was shocked to find that this discrimination is still happening, just online instead of in newspapers,” Bobbi Spees, the lead complainant in the case, said in an ACLU statement. “I shouldn’t be shut out of the chance to hear about a job opportunity just because I am a woman.”
Facebook lets advertisers target users based on their city, age, interests and other niche information within its network — and while it’s not against the law for companies to advertise things to specific demographics, it can be illegal if ads for job opportunities or real estate don’t target a group of people based on race or gender, for example. Facebook, meanwhile, has said it’s not responsible for companies that buy ads that violate the law.
“There is no place for discrimination on Facebook; it’s strictly prohibited in our policies,” Joe Osborne, a Facebook spokesman, told the New York Times. “We are reviewing the complaint and look forward to defending our practices.”
The lawyers collecting ads posted on Facebook between October 2017 and August 2018 for the case explained they found out the businesses were targeting men when they asked a group of workers to click on the employment ads that popped up on their Facebook accounts. The job seekers opened a Facebook disclosure that said they received them because they were men, and primarily between a certain age and in a specific location, the Times noted. A Facebook disclosure for an ad by Nebraska Furniture Mart of Texas seeking people to “assemble and prepare merchandise for delivery,” for example, said the business wanted to reach men 18 to 50 who lived near Fort Worth.
Before a formal lawsuit can be filed, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission must review all charges against Facebook.
Just last month, Facebook received a complaint from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for allegedly violating the Fair Housing Act. The agency alleged that the social network allows landlords and home sellers to use targeted Facebook ads to discriminate against tenants or buyers based on sex, race, disability or other characteristics. A spokesperson for Facebook said it would respond to the HUD complaint in court, and work with the agency to address concerns.
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