In Part 1 this social media background checks series, we discussed the issue of accuracy when using social media resources for performing employment screenings. Now, let’s address the issues of privacy and discrimination.
These two topics go hand-in-hand even more so than with accuracy. Whereas accuracy can come down to a matter of very poor judgement on the part of the person being screened, privacy and discrimination present more of a basic human rights issue.
Regardless of what we’re expected to believe, discrimination is alive and well in the employment arena and an employer’s personal beliefs or preferences can muddy the waters and create unfair circumstances when the opportunity presents itself. For instance, during an employment background screening using social media, the employer may find out that the potential employee belongs to a group based on color, nationality, sex, creed, race, disabilities, medical conditions, etc. that could be grounds for a discrimination lawsuit if that person isn’t hired.
Again, despite what we want to believe, discrimination happens. If you were hiring and you found out through social media that a job candidate you really favored happened to belong to a support group because they were HIV-positive, would this affect your decision?
As far as privacy is concerned, a big topic of debate is that of “legal off-duty conduct.” This is another area where personal preferences often come into play and could lead to charges of discrimination. Numerous states have taken action to protect employees engaging in legal off-duty conduct and have put limits on the use of private behavior in making decisions regarding employment. Obviously, if the off-duty conduct is legal but would damage the reputation of the company, it would be grounds for dismissal, but this (once again) leaves a lot to personal opinion and preference.
In the end, employers continue and will continue to use social media in employment screenings. It’s just too readily available to ignore. If you’re a job candidate, use good judgment on your social media profiles. If you’re an employer, use good judgment in how you USE the information you find through social media resources.
Categories: Social Media