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Facebook denied financial services opportunities to women and older people, lawsuit alleges

Oct 31, 2019 / News Item / CNN Business — Ahiza Garcia

Facebook is facing a proposed class action lawsuit for allegedly denying people financial services products based on age and gender.

A complaint filed Thursday in a federal district court in San Francisco alleges that financial services ads on Facebook were targeted away from women and older people over the past three years. The complaint defines older people as those who are at least 40 years old.

It seeks to bar Facebook and advertisers from excluding older persons and women from receiving ads for financial services such as bank accounts, loans, insurance coverage, and investments.

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According to the suit, Facebook hasn't taken any steps to prevent financial services advertisers from excluding based on age or gender. It notes the one exception to this exclusion is advertising for credit opportunities.

The suit alleges that Facebook violated California's Unruh Civil Rights Act, which states that all people in the state, regardless of sex, race, medical condition or other characteristics, are entitled to "full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind whatsoever."

One of the firms involved in the suit, Outten & Golden, has brought similar suits against Facebook in the past.

In September 2018, Outten & Golden, the Communications Workers of America and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint against Facebook and 10 other employers for unlawfully discriminating against potential job seekers.

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Facebook paid nearly $5 million to settle several suits in March, including the one brought by Outten & Golden. Facebook also announced a separate advertising portal for housing, employment and credit ads that will offer significantly fewer targeting options.

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