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Women say Facebook ads promote gender discrimination

Women in New Jersey and across the county have raised red flags about Facebook's advertising options, saying that the company is responsible for gender discrimination and employment through the way it displays ads to website members. One group of Facebook users filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in September 2018, alleging that the tech company was responsible for posting discriminatory employment ads on the platform. They also filed complaints against nine other businesses responsible for buying the ads from Facebook.

The women noted that companies that buy ads on Facebook can target them on the basis of gender. Thus, women who use the platform were unable to see the ads. Unlike ads for products or services that could legally target one gender, however, these were employment advertisements for positions like truck driver and window installer. The women allege that using Facebook's technology to hide job ads from one gender violates the Civil Rights Act and is a form of employment discrimination. Their claim was supported by advocacy groups like the Communications Workers of America and the American Civil Liberties Union.

This is not the first time that Facebook's advertising structure has led to discrimination complaints, especially when employment, real estate and financial advertisements are targeted on the base of gender, race or age. Race may not be used as a targeting category for this type of ad, and another lawsuit alleges that the company's platform is also responsible for promoting age discrimination in employment.

While the tech giant says that it is not responsible for the discriminatory ads that were posted, the complainants disagree. The case illustrates that women continue to face gender discrimination in employment even decades after the passage of the Civil Rights Act. An employment lawyer can work with people who have experienced workplace discrimination to fight back and pursue justice.

Source: Vox, "Women accuse Facebook of illegally posting job ads that only men can see," Alexia Fernández Campbell, September 18, 2018

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