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Employers illegally used Facebook ads to exclude women and older workers, says EEOC

Seven employers, including Capital One and car rental company Enterprise, violated federal law when they used Facebook ads to exclude workers based on their...

Posted: Sep 26, 2019 7:57 AM

Seven employers, including Capital One and car rental company Enterprise, violated federal law when they used Facebook ads to exclude workers based on their age, gender or both, according to rulings from the federal agency that enforces laws prohibiting workplace discrimination.

In letters sent to each company -- released by the labor union Communications Workers of America late Tuesday -- the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said it found "reasonable cause" that the employer violated federal laws by excluding women, older workers or both from seeing their job ads on Facebook. The social network offers advertisers various tools for targeting their desired audience.

The ads are from 2018 and earlier. Facebook has pledged changes since then.

In March, Facebook said it would pay nearly $5 million to settle several lawsuits that alleged its advertising platform allowed for discrimination in housing, employment and credit ads. As part of multiple settlements, it also announced major changes, including a separate advertising portal for housing, employment and credit ads that will offer significantly fewer targeting options.

A Facebook spokesperson pointed CNN Business to its recent changes and said helping prevent discrimination in housing, employment and credit ads is an area where it believes it's leading the ad industry.

"All workers deserve a fair chance to get a good job," Sara Steffens, the secretary-treasurer of the Communications Workers of America labor union, said in a statement. "The EEOC's rulings should send employers a strong message that they can't unfairly lock workers out of opportunities based on their gender or age."

The EEOC's rulings came after complaints filed by the Communications Workers of America and several individuals represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and law firm Outten & Golden.

According to the EEOC letters, if the employer declines to discuss or reach an "acceptable" settlement, other enforcement options could be taken. For example, the plaintiffs' lawyers could file additional class action lawsuits on behalf of their clients against the employers who don't settle the charges.

A spokesperson for the EEOC said it could not confirm or deny the existence of charge filings, investigations or administrative resolutions due to confidentiality provisions in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 -- a federal law that bans employment discrimination based on factors including sex, race and religion.

The other employers named are Edward Jones, Nebraska Furniture Mart, Renewal by Andersen, DriveTime and Sandhills Publishing. Most of the companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment from CNN Business via email.

"Edward Jones is committed to growing the ranks of financial advisors and associates across all demographics," a company spokesperson told CNN Business. "We strongly disagree with the claim that our firm engaged in discriminatory practices in the advertising of job opportunities, recruiting, or hiring. We believe deeply in inclusion and diversity and champion initiatives that bring equal opportunity to the workplace. Edward Jones job opportunities are publicly posted and available for all interested applicants to see through multiple channels."

Facebook has long faced criticism about its advertising platform and whether its systems enable discrimination. In December 2017, a ProPublica and New York Times investigation found that dozens of major employers ran recruitment ads just for certain age groups. At the time, Facebook said age-based targeting is "an accepted industry practice."

From November 2016 to September 2018, Facebook was hit with five discrimination lawsuits and charges from civil rights and labor organizations, workers and individuals. The allegations claimed Facebook's ad systems excluded certain people from seeing housing, employment and credit ads based on their age, gender or race. At the time it settled those suits in March, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg wrote in a blog post that the company was committed to doing more to protect against discrimination.

"Getting this right is deeply important to me and all of us at Facebook because inclusivity is a core value for our company," she wrote.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 256827

Reported Deaths: 5638
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17257180
Hinds16331322
Harrison13567194
Rankin10804212
Jackson10453184
Lee8864141
Madison8314164
Jones6434112
Forrest6009120
Lauderdale5902186
Lowndes5405116
Lafayette499193
Lamar488565
Washington4803124
Bolivar3997109
Oktibbeha395381
Panola372379
Pontotoc367853
Monroe3558105
Warren354898
Union345960
Marshall344066
Neshoba3396152
Pearl River3301100
Leflore3041107
Lincoln298085
Sunflower286671
Hancock274459
Tate273162
Alcorn265453
Itawamba263759
Pike263778
Scott248046
Yazoo247056
Prentiss246552
Tippah243050
Copiah242749
Coahoma241054
Simpson236467
Leake231765
Grenada219471
Covington214672
Marion213073
Adams207070
Wayne202932
Winston201666
George199839
Attala194259
Newton193444
Tishomingo189361
Chickasaw185044
Jasper172736
Holmes168767
Clay159833
Stone144721
Tallahatchie141934
Clarke139862
Calhoun136521
Smith121424
Yalobusha117834
Walthall112336
Noxubee110822
Greene110429
Montgomery109834
Carroll104821
Lawrence102917
Perry102631
Amite98426
Webster92824
Tunica87321
Claiborne86625
Jefferson Davis85326
Humphreys83124
Benton82023
Kemper77620
Quitman6968
Franklin66715
Choctaw60913
Wilkinson58725
Jefferson54919
Sharkey43117
Issaquena1596
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 426543

Reported Deaths: 6126
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson62752920
Mobile30551554
Madison27303186
Tuscaloosa20835267
Montgomery19192305
Shelby18693114
Baldwin16513183
Lee12603101
Morgan12321113
Etowah11805168
Calhoun11206200
Marshall10236107
Houston8681148
Cullman8094105
Limestone807474
Elmore7923101
DeKalb771597
Lauderdale763183
St. Clair7599120
Talladega6224108
Walker5930174
Jackson583741
Colbert535473
Blount532083
Autauga522755
Coffee446256
Dale399781
Franklin368148
Chilton337865
Russell335910
Covington330168
Escambia321342
Dallas305196
Chambers288669
Clarke283133
Tallapoosa2630107
Pike251329
Marion247350
Lawrence245247
Winston229035
Bibb217047
Geneva203335
Marengo200829
Pickens196931
Hale177442
Barbour173836
Fayette171226
Butler170758
Cherokee160930
Henry155021
Monroe147317
Randolph141535
Washington138326
Clay127045
Crenshaw120244
Cleburne118423
Lamar118419
Macon116835
Lowndes111535
Wilcox103621
Bullock99728
Perry98219
Conecuh95120
Sumter89526
Greene76223
Coosa60515
Choctaw51524
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