When speaking with our clients we find that the majority turn to social media when going through the hiring process. 43% of employers say social recruiting has led to higher quality candidates, leading them to believe hiring through social media is the way to go in the future. While social media can act as a great supplement to hiring, it can also act as a slippery slope to civil lawsuits if it is the only method used during the hiring process. A 2012 Social Recruiting survey and 2015 Recruiter Nation survey, both from Jobvite, indicate that 96% of employers use or anticipate using social media as a screening of future employees. Approximately 47% of employers turn to Twitter, 55% use Facebook, and an overwhelming 87% turn to LinkedIn for quick background information on potential employees. In fact, 56% of recruiters find candidates from social media sites and 73% of employers have successfully hired a candidate through social networks. However, how much information is too much information?
Why using social media in the hiring process is tricky business:
There are certain “potential employee” aspects which the law would rather an employer not know before conducting interviews. Specifics include, race, gender, religion, disabilities and sexual orientation. When going through personal social media sites, such information is often easy to find and view. Using this information at any time during the hiring process would violate many anti-discrimination laws. These laws include:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). This prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin;
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA). This protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older; and
- Title I and Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). This prohibits employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in the private sector, and in state and local governments.
Here enters the tricky part. Even if an employer does not base his or her decision of hiring a certain individual on the information gained from social media sites, how can the employer prove this? If the individual who was turned down for the job learns that his or her social media site was viewed, he might claim that it was for this reason that he was not hired for the open job position. This claim will inevitably lead to a discrimination lawsuit.
How can hiring employers avoid discrimination lawsuits?
For starters, it is always best to wait until after an interview has taken place to look up a potential employee on social media sites. Even this however does not fully protect employers. So what does?
- Using an outside screening company which might gather information from social media sites, or using an existing employee to gather social media information is acceptable, so long as the employee is not involved in the hiring process.
- Only gather information pertaining to education, or experience. Do not gather or utilize any information which is protected under anti-discrimination laws.
- Include an acknowledgement statement on job applications which allows the employer to access the potential employee’s social media site, for business purposes only.
- Incorporate a social media process within company policy, explaining the do’s and don’ts of using social media during screening processes and be sure to indicate such a process is used only when determining applicants job qualifications and experience. Also be sure that existing employees are well trained on this matter according to the policy.
- Always keep copies and records of what information and which sites were used during hiring so that it can be proved that only valid information, which does not violate anti-discrimination laws, were used during the hiring process.
By following these steps, you can help protect yourself and your business from unwanted discrimination lawsuits. The information on Social Media sites has grown at tremendous rates over the last ten years, and can be very tempting during the hiring process, but learning how to filter and organize such information can mean a lot of time and money saved both for you and your business.