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The Nation's Top Employers Are in Hot Water for Facebook Job Ads Targeted at Younger Workers

Diane has a master's degree in Human Resources Development (HRD) from Villanova University and is a SHRM Certified Practicioner.


Several major organizations - including Verizon, Amazon, Target, and Facebook - have come under scrutiny and legal challenge recently, as it has come to light that the nation’s top employers are using social media to place targeted job ads - excluding older workers.

In one such case, Verizon was found guilty of posting job ads on Facebook, targeted at individuals between the ages of 25 and 36, in order to fill positions in their financial planning and analysis division.

Due to protections enacted by The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, actions such as those taken by Verizon are blatantly illegal. The act, which prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of age, applies to individuals 40 years old and older and was enacted to promote and protect the employment of older individuals based on experience and skill, rather than age.

Additionally, section 4 (e) of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) makes it unlawful to “print or publish or cause to be printed or published, any notice or advertisement…indicating preference, limitation, specification, or discrimination, based on age.” In 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received more than 20,000 official complaints of age discrimination in the workplace. With 25.9 percent of the workforce projected to be made up of workers 55 years and older by 2022, age discrimination needs to be curbed.

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What Can You Do As An Employer?

1) Advertise job openings in a variety of places to attract a large applicant pool

2) Avoid screening tests that negatively impact any one group of individuals

3) Focus on qualifications, necessary skills, education, experience, and the essential job functions in the job application and job ad.

4) Avoid trigger words in job ads that can be seen as discriminatory. These include: “girl,” “boy,” “young,” “age 25-36,” “counter girl,” “handyman,” and “college student.”

5) Instead, use words such as: “salesperson,” “general repair person,” “retail clerk,” “energetic,” and “server.”

Statistics show that older workers are harder working, more reliable, more committed, and have less absenteeism than younger workers. Avoid intentionally, or unintentionally, discriminating against individuals with more experience – any negative effects of age on performance are usually so minor, it is irrelevant.

© 2019 Diane Abramson

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