However, similar to Facebook, LinkedIn’s jobs portal does not allow such precise targeting and the website’s advertising policy prohibits discriminatory posts.
Paul Holcroft, associate director at Croner, warned employers’ use of age filters could be “risky” if they didn’t think about their choices carefully.
“Although age is treated differently to the other protected characteristics in that employers can justify direct as well as indirect discrimination, potentially discriminatory recruitment methods need thorough and detailed consideration,” he said. “It’s the employer who has to stand before the judge and explain them, after all.”
Meanwhile, Stefan Martin, employment partner at Hogan Lovells, told People Management that if advertisers managed to slip through the websites’ discrimination spotting safeguards, they could find themselves in legal hot water.
“It’s a bit like sending an ad into the paper which gets published – and there’s been plenty of examples of this in the past which are blatantly discriminatory – and saying, ‘I thought if there was a problem with it, the paper would reject it’. I don’t think that would really fly,” Martin said.
There are legitimate reasons for applying age filters to advertising more generally, such as preventing children from viewing promotions for gambling or alcohol.
A Facebook spokesperson said: “We require all advertisers who choose to exclude some users from seeing their ads on Facebook to confirm their compliance with our anti-discrimination policies and the law.
“Our safeguards, which includes human reviewers and machine learning systems, have successfully flagged millions of ads which violate our anti-discrimination policies and we are continuously working to further increase their effectiveness.”
And a LinkedIn spokesperson confirmed its targeting tools were not accessible on jobs postings. “If a job advert is flagged as discriminatory we will immediately take it down,” the spokesperson added. “Adverts for products and services are able to use targeting tools for location or age to ensure that their campaigns are seen by the relevant audiences. For example, a financial services firm may want to reach retirees for retirement products, or a car company might target adverts for particular models at specific age groups.”
Meanwhile, it has been reported the companies involved in the US case have called the claims vague and subjective in a court filing.