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Major employers may target candidates by age

Those looking for work in California and throughout the country may not necessarily see job ads from major companies such as Google or Facebook on social media. According to an investigation from ProPublica and the New York Times, job ads on social media sites are being skewed toward younger audiences. For instance, HubSpot had an ad on Facebook that specifically targeted those between the ages of 27 and 40.

While this may seem like ageism, the law is not necessarily clear as to whether such behavior is illegal. This is because employers generally get some discretion as it relates to employment decisions based on age. However, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 does offer protections for workers who are age 40 or older. In response to the investigation into the practice of ad targeting by age, several companies made changes to their advertising policies.

For instance, HubSpot acknowledged it had made a mistake while LinkedIn decided to eliminate age ranges in its advertising tools. If employers want to use age ranges in recruitment ads, they must promise not to discriminate based on age. Facebook claims that targeting based on age is no different than advertising in magazines that reach certain audiences. The counterargument is that while anyone can buy that magazine, only those within the target range can see ads online.

If an individual is not hired for a position based on his or her age, that may be a violation of employment law. An attorney may use evidence such as hiring or recruitment patterns in an effort to show that age factored into employment decisions. If a claim is successful, an individual may be entitled to compensation and other relief. Cases may be resolved in court or through informal negotiations.

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