January 10, 2024 – The Supreme Court of California today denied Facebook’s request to review the California Court of Appeals’ decision to revive Samantha Liapes et al., v. Facebook, Inc., an important and closely watched online discrimination case led by Outten & Golden LLP and attorneys from Peter Roman Friedman Law, Gupta Wessler PLLC, and Aqua Terra Aeris Law Group. The California Court of Appeals had reversed the trial court’s dismissal of the suit in September 2023 – a watershed decision that was hailed by the ACLU, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and other civil rights activists; and paved the way for Ms. Liapes to sue Facebook for allegedly encouraging insurance companies to steer their ads away from women and older people, in violation of California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act.
Ms. Liapes claims that Facebook creates and uses various online advertising tools — some with input from advertisers on the platform — that treat users disparately on the basis of protected characteristics. Specifically, her lawsuit alleges that Facebook’s ad delivery system didn’t show Ms. Liapes ads for insurance due to her age (above 40) and gender. In its September 2023 decision, the California Court of Appeals ruled that Facebook, which receives more than 98% of its revenue from advertisers, makes the final decisions about which users will receive the ads, and “expressly uses age and gender” in those decisions.
“Facebook, which has millions of advertisers and reaches billions of users, shouldn’t be immune to accountability for its discriminatory advertising practices,” said Adam T. Klein from Outten & Golden LLP. “We’re pleased with the California Supreme Court’s decision, and look forward to arguing this important civil rights case on its merits.”
Ms. Liapes is represented by Outten & Golden attorneys Adam T. Klein, Jahan C. Sagafi, Christopher McNerney, Pooja Shethji, and Courtney Hinkle, and attorneys from Peter Roman Friedman Law, Gupta Wessler PLLC, and Aqua Terra Aeris Law Group.