The announcement of another Amazon warehouse in New York City seemed like good news since it meant more job opportunities for New York workers. However, the ecommerce company has come under fire for age discrimination practices along with the cellular company T-Mobile.
A lawsuit filed on December 20, 2017 alleges the corporations are discriminating against older workers by the parameters used in their Facebook ads. The Communications Workers of America union filed the federal lawsuit against Amazon, T-Mobile and subsidiaries of Cox Enterprises. While Facebook is accused of targeting specific age groups, they are not a defendant in the suit.
Facebook has defended the practice of age based targeting, comparing it to placing ads in magazines with a younger target audience. But anyone can purchase and read a magazine, regardless of its target age group. When online ads are age exclusive, potential employees can be excluded without even realizing it.
Since 1967 it has been illegal to discriminate applicants 40 years of age and older, these workers are protected under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The lawsuit accuses the companies of targeting specific age groups, such as workers 18-38. A lead attorney stated that companies relying heavily on social media for job recruitment harms older job seekers when ads are targeted towards a younger audience.
Employers can create ads using wording, such as entry level or junior, when describing a position to subtly imply the expected age of applicants. However, and ad ending with, “no one over 55 need apply,” is clearly discriminatory. Micro-targeting is a relatively new recruitment tool and aiming recruitment ads only at a small age bracket is exclusive. The lawsuit is bringing attention to the practice but It remains to be seen if the courts will consider it discrimination.
Older workers seeking new employment opportunities should not face discrimination. They bring significant work experience and knowledge to the table. Unions or union members facing age discrimination can seek legal recourse.