Online targeted recruiting practices could lead to lawsuits for employers

Q&A with Tony Puckett

published in The Oklahoman | January 23, 2018

While social media platforms such as Facebook offer companies the ability to narrowly target their ads to reach readers in specific demographics, this practice has come under attack by some who say employment ads that microtarget younger workers run afoul of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (AEDA).

In a business Q&A with The Oklahoman, McAfee & Taft labor and employment attorney Tony Puckett discussed the allegations in a federal lawsuit filed by the Communications Workers of America. The organization recently sued several large employers, claiming they discriminated against older workers by limiting the audience for their Facebook employment ads to include younger workers. For example, one ad was for a company that wanted to “reach people ages 25 to 36 who live or were living near Washington, District of Columbia.”

“The Age Discrimination in Employment Act expressly applies to hiring and states that it’s unlawful for an employer ‘to fail or refuse to hire’ any individual because of such individual’s age,” said Puckett. The Act provides protections to individuals age 40 and older.

Puckett said online ads should be treated the same as hard copy ads, and he recommends that employers audit their online job postings and other recruiting materials to ensure they do not include any age-specific references or placements in media that limit viewing to younger viewers.