ProPublica/New York Times report last month has raised concerns about
job ads discriminating against older workers.
Jennifer Valentino-Devries, ProPublica
D.C.) -- The
group for older Americans and the two top members of the U.S. Senate
Committee on Aging are calling on employers and tech companies to stop
recruitment ads on Facebook and other online sites to younger workers.
appears age discrimination is alive and well in the digital era,” Nancy
LeaMond, executive vice president of AARP, said in a statement on
urge online platforms to take the steps needed to ensure they’re not
age-biased recruiting and hiring practices. And we continue to
call on all
employers to end bias in their employment practices,” she said.
Republican Susan Collins, who chairs the Senate Aging Committee, and
Pennsylvania Democrat Robert Casey, the ranking minority member, wrote
Facebook, Google and LinkedIn on Dec. 22, asking them how many
on their platforms are targeted by age group, and what safeguards they
prevent employment discrimination based on age. The companies have
end of January to respond.
targeting employment advertisements to specific age groups, certain
be denied the ability to view job opportunities,” Collins and Casey
“While targeted online job postings can benefit both employers and
technological advancement can also become an avenue for discriminatory
practices if not properly managed.”
and the senators were reacting to a Dec.
20 report by ProPublica and The New York Times that dozens of
leading employers, including Facebook itself, narrow their audience for
on Facebook and other platforms by age. The ability of advertisers to
their messages at specific groups is a cornerstone of Facebook’s
such micro-targeting becomes controversial when it fosters
legally protected categories such as race and age. ProPublica has
Facebook also accepted ads aimed at “Jew-haters”
as well as housing
ads that discriminated by race, gender, disability and other
the same day that the employment-ad article was published, a
complaint alleging age discrimination was filed in federal court in San
Francisco against major employers for denying job opportunities to
workers by preventing them from receiving recruiting ads on Facebook.
lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Communications Workers of America
members, as well as all Facebook users 40 or older.
found that Google and LinkedIn also allowed the purchase of employment
targeted by age. After being contacted by ProPublica, LinkedIn changed
ad-buying portal to prevent advertisers from using age ranges unless
affirm the ad is not discriminatory. Google and Facebook acknowledged
allow advertisers to display ads based on the user’s age, and defended
responsibly, age-based targeting for employment purposes is an accepted
industry practice and for good reason: it helps employers recruit and
all ages find work,” said Rob Goldman, a Facebook vice president. A
spokesman said the company is in touch with the AARP and the Senate
AARP, which has more than 35 million members, and the senators also
widespread targeting of ads to younger workers online shows the need to
the 1967 law that prohibits bias against people 40 or older in hiring
advancements require new attention,” LeaMond said. “The methods of
have changed and its tools now include algorithms, dropdown boxes and
has proposed legislation to strengthen the age discrimination law by
equivalent to statutory protections based on race and gender. He said
of age targeting in online employment ads is new to him.
still have to learn a lot more,” he said in an interview. “One of the
is the awareness of the law and the intensity with regard to how
approach compliance on age discrimination is at a very low level”
other forms of bias.
groups besides AARP also expressed concern in response to the article.
kind of discriminatory redlining is just the tip of the iceberg, and it
stop,” Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment
Project, a nonprofit that seeks to strengthen protections for workers,
a Dec. 21 statement.
hear that certain employers might not make job ads visible to those
it’s disheartening,” Maura Porcelli, managing director of the Senior
Service Employment Program at the National Council on Aging, said in an
interview. “The data shows that older adults are valuable members of
workplace, with expertise and very low turnover. But clearly some
have still not embraced that value.”
Valentino-DeVries is a reporter covering technology and
report originally ran at ProPublica and is reprinted here
with permission. ProPublica is a non-profit news platform that produces
investigative journalism in the public interest.
was a recipient of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for public service, the 2016
Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting, the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for
reporting and a 2010 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting.
10, 2017 ProPublica and the New York Daily News won the Pulitzer Prize
public service, honoring their joint investigation on abuses in the New
City Police Department’s enforcement of the nuisance abatement law. The
was the fourth Pulitzer Prize for ProPublica and the 11th for the Daily
presented in the above report is the product of ProPublica's reporting
not necessarily represent the views of the staff or management of the
Tags: Age discrimination, Facebook, recruitment ads, AARP