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Facebook ad case highlights discriminatory recruiting

Recently, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, announced that it was pursuing several large corporations, including a major rental car company, a large bank, and a nationally known investment advisory firm, on allegations that they engaged in discriminatory recruiting.

The EEOC issued a determination of reasonable cause to the firms, meaning that the EEOC had good reason to believe that the firms had engaged in discrimination. While these determinations often foster settlements, they also are the first step toward the EEOC, or an injured employee, filing suit.

At issue is the fact that these firms relied on several Facebook ads which were allegedly targeted to reach a certain audience. Per se, there is nothing wrong with companies looking for a particular type of job candidate.

However, the problem in this case was that the ads were systemically not shown to women or to people over 40. Under both federal and California laws, a company may not use the recruiting process to engage in illegal discrimination.

Illegal discrimination can include systemically weeding out candidates on an unlawful basis, like race, gender or age. Likewise, and as in this case, advertising open positions in such a way as to attract only young men to a job constitutes illegal discrimination.

For their part, the companies have all denied wrongdoing. It remains to be seen whether they will elect to settle the allegations or proceed to litigate the matter further.

Los Angeles have the right not only to a workplace free of illegal discrimination but also to full and fair access to the job market.

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