Seven companies violated federal law when they excluded women and older workers from seeing job ads they posted on Facebook, according to the nation’s leading employment equality watchdog.

On Tuesday, the Communications Workers of America union said the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found “reasonable cause” to believe the companies violated federal laws with their exclusive advertising and hiring. By targeting men and young Americans, the companies never afforded women or older job-seekers a fair chance to earn these positions. Employers are barred by federal law from discriminatory hiring based on age, sex and other protected classes.

Those individuals ― who are being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and the law firm Outten & Golden ― were snubbed by employers like Capital One, Edward Jones and Sandhills Publishing Co., among others, the CWA said.

“Today’s job-seekers increasingly use online platforms rather than traditional help-wanted ads to find jobs, and more and more employers use social media and other digital tools to advertise to and recruit workers,” said Galen Sherwin, senior staff attorney at the ACLU Women’s Rights Project. “This ruling sends a message that employers don’t get a pass to avoid anti-discrimination laws simply by posting their ads online.”

Tuesday’s findings of a discriminatory hiring system involving Facebook ads come amid a storm of similar accusations that companies were using the social network to exclude potential applicants. A lawsuit filed Sept. 18 alleges seven housing companies have used Facebook’s targeted ad service to exclude older prospective tenants.

CWA, the ACLU and Outten & Golden reached a settlement with Facebook in March that required the network to make changes to its ad platform. That same month, the Department of Housing and Urban Development charged Facebook with racial discrimination over the site’s ad practices.

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