Recently, a group of women filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against Facebook, arguing that the social media platform and certain companies posting ads on it have engaged in gender discrimination. These companies used Facebook to advertise positions in occupations such as the trucking industry, but they allegedly used Facebook settings to ensure that only men wold be able to see the postings. The ACLU helped the women file the complaint, which claims that Facebook and the companies posting these ads have violated the Civil Rights Act. This federal law prohibits businesses from discriminating against prospective employees based on certain protected traits, such as gender.
Facebook released a statement denying the allegations of discrimination. However, this is not the first time that the social media site has faced litigation based on allegedly discriminatory ads. Protected traits that have formed the basis of previous lawsuits include race, religion, and age, as well as gender.
A key question in determining whether Facebook is liable for the ads is whether the Communications Decency Act applies. This is a federal law that shields internet companies like Facebook from liability when content by third parties violates laws. These plaintiffs and others argue that the Communications Decency Act does not apply, however, since Facebook was responsible for developing an ad technology that allegedly facilitates discriminatory tactics by companies using it.
Photo Credit: rvlsoft/ Shutterstock.com