Facebook could be hit with a class action lawsuit in Canada alleging that the social media giant has facilitated discrimination in ads for jobs and housing based on factors such as age and gender.
The Montreal law firm IMK LLP filed an application for authorization to institute a class action in Quebec Superior Court Thursday. The application — the first step in launching a class action — must be approved by the court before it can proceed.
The application is being made on behalf of everyone in Canada who had a Facebook account and was excluded from seeing employment and housing ads on Facebook as a result of their “race, sex, civil status, age, ethnic or national origin or social condition.”
While the application is being made in the name of 65-year-old legal assistant Lyse Beaulieu, who has been job-hunting for the past two years, the proposed class action covers hundreds of thousands of people dispersed across Canada, including those it says may not realize they have been discriminated against.
The application covers the period between April 11, 2016 and the date when a ruling is issued in the case.
In addition to asking for damages, the application asks the court to order Facebook to stop allowing employment and housing ads that discriminate on the basis of race, sex, civil status, age, ethnic or national origin or social condition.
“Facebook has been violating the Quebec Charter (of Human Rights and Freedoms) and respective provincial human rights legislation across Canada persistently for years,” the application alleges.
“Making the matter worse, Facebook has acknowledged that its permissive targeting practices are being used in a discriminatory manner in the United States, and it has accordingly accepted to implement mechanisms in the United States to prevent such discriminatory practices going forward. At the same time, Facebook has completely failed to take any measures to cease the perpetuation of these discriminatory practices in Canada.”