Online Targeted Advertising for Jobs: Does Showing Job Advertisements to Men and Not Women Violate the Civil Rights Act?

47 Rutgers L. Rec. 175 (2019) | WestLaw | LexisNexis | PDF

As online advertising for employment is becoming increasingly popular, it begs the question: how do employers target employee prospects, and are those practices violative of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Online job advertisements are shown to users and viewers based upon individual interests, just like online advertisements for clothing, housing, and other products. This is done through an algorithm; employers can decide who to target based on interests and “categories” of people, such as race, gender, age, etc. Such practices give effect to stereotyping, which is clearly not a plausible indication of people’s qualifications and skills for employment purposes. Employers want their advertisements shown to those they believe are best qualified for the job. This could have negative consequences for people who may be qualified for the job in question, but are not targeted by the employer. This note will look specifically at the potential disparate impact on women, who, in particular circumstances, are not shown employment advertisements for jobs that they are qualified for because they were not targeted by the employer.

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