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Report examines possible age discrimination in online ads

Some New Jersey Facebook users might have seen jobs ads from companies such as Amazon, Verizon and Goldman Sachs that were specifically targeted to them because of their age. This has raised concerns that this could constitute age discrimination. However, a Facebook vice-president said the targeting is no different from when companies run job ads in publications that are aimed at particular demographics.

ProPublica and the New York Times carried out the investigation. One example was a financial planning ad from Verizon that was aimed at users who lived in or had recently visited Washington, D.C., had shown an interest in finance and were 25 to 36.

Google and LinkedIn sold employment ads to ProPublica that were hidden from over-40 users. After the organization pointed this out to the companies, LinkedIn removed the ability to do this kind of targeting for employment ads. Google said that it did not have a policy against advertisements that targeted certain age groups. However, employment bias against people 40 and older is prohibited by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.

There are a number of other types of prohibited workplace discrimination including those based on gender, disability or race. Employees who believe they are being discriminated against might want to document the actions. This could include saving emails, texts or voice messages and simply writing down any incidents that occur. While employees might want to address the discrimination through human resources or another channel at work before taking legal action, they may also want to consult an attorney about their rights. For example, employees may want to make sure they are part of a protected class and get other advice about how to raise the issue with an employer.

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