Social Media and Job Applicants

August 9, 2016

Particularly for your younger job applicants, it would be safe to say that many, if not most, of them have one or more social media accounts. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or any of the others, they are freely exposing aspects of their personal lives all around the globe.

Many employers now attempt to review an applicant’s social media activity when considering them for employment.

Here is a word of caution, and it really is very simple. When someone applies for a job with your business, let’s say via your website process, you do not know the race, age, religion, marital status, sexual orientation, etc. of the person. Federal law prohibits you from asking about these things. But if you view a person’s social media activity you could very well learn all about these characteristics, and if employment is denied it is not a stretch to assume that a disgruntled applicant could claim that the certain personal features you discovered impacted your decision.

Social media checks are considered a ‘minefield’ by many HR and legal professionals. Before you consider them in your hiring process consult with your legal counsel. You want to hire the best people, and knowing as much as you can about them can help you do that. However, the many current and changing federal and state laws that impact the employment process should always be considered when making such an important decision. Add to that the growing members of the population that are not shy about initiating class-action lawsuits, and this is a decision not to be taken lightly or without significant analysis.

Contributed by Steven J. Austin of LABORCHEX.

Through the Michigan Chamber partnership with LABORCHEX, members get discounted pricing to employment background screening services. To learn more, please email Steven J. Austin or call him at 601-624-4321.