Age Discrimination by Platforms 

Artificial Intelligence, Networks, the Internet, and Cloud Computing, Internet and Media and Content

Article Snapshot


Ifeoma Ajunwa


Berkeley Journal of Employment & Labor Law, Vol. 40, pp. 1-28, 2019


In future, older workers will constitute a larger proportion of the population. Many digital platforms hinder the efforts of older people to find employment.

Policy Relevance

Policymakers should ensure that digital platforms and employers are accountable for age discrimination.

Main Points

  • Social media and hiring platforms sometimes enable or contribute to age-related job discrimination by including design elements that discourage or hinder older job applicants.
    • One site associated “senior citizen jobs” with “part-time jobs.”
    • Sites hinder older applicants by using small print.
    • Drop-down menus list graduation dates or birth years which exclude applicants over a certain age.
  • Under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the plaintiff must show that, but for age discrimination, she would have been hired; courts defer to employers’ claims that motives other than discrimination were involved.
  • Platforms serving as intermediaries between employers and employees raise challenging issues for discrimination law.
    • The liability of platforms for discrimination depends on how much control the platforms have over the data collected and how it is used.
    • Highly automated platforms that actively shape the content revealed to employers should be liable for age discrimination.
  • Three steps would limit age discrimination by employment platforms, as follows:
    • Legislators should add a cause of action for practices that have a disparate impact on older workers to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).
    • Employers should avoid using ageist language in advertising for workers, such as use of the term “recent graduate.”
    • Regulatory guidelines should require platforms and employers to retain data concerning activities relating to job advertising, recruitment, and hiring platforms.
  • Technological advances in medical care mean that humans live longer than before, and will need gainful employment; the law should support the elimination of age discrimination in employment.

Get The Article

Find the full article online

Search for Full Article