After Linda Bradley's job came to an end about a year and a half ago, she combed online job sites every day looking for work—without much luck.
Bradley, who is 45 and lives near Columbus, Ohio, began suspecting age discrimination after someone at her union mentioned how recruiters often target online ads at younger candidates. "I thought, 'Oh, that's why I wasn't seeing some of the ads that my daughter has seen on her Facebook,'" she says.
When an employer sets out to recruit young people for a certain job, is it discriminating against older job seekers in a way that breaks the law? That question is at the center of several pending lawsuits that could help improve job opportunities for older Americans.
Bradley is a plaintiff in one such case brought in December against T-Mobile, Facebook, and a host of other companies. The lawsuit, filed by the Communications Workers of America, alleges the companies discriminate by excluding older workers from seeing their ads.
Workplace civil rights law prohibits discrimination against workers 40 and older. Yet worker advocates say recruiters sometimes exclude older workers by narrowing how and where they look for candidates. Another recent suit has challenged whether an employer can recruit exclusively on college campuses.
"We see that this is one of the factors that keeps older workers out of the job market after a job loss," says Jody Calemine, chief of staff with the Communications Workers of America.
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