by. Henry Meier
As faithful readers of this blog know, I am not an employment law attorney but I still like to highlight emerging issues that may confront you in the workplace. One of the issues that most intrigues me is the extent to which employers should delve into an applicant’s social media postings as part of the hiring and promotion process.
I’ve come to believe that looking into someone’s Facebook postings, as tempting as it might be, does more harm than good. A good interview will get you all the information you need about an applicant, while checking someone’s Facebook page could potentially set you up for a claim that you discriminated against an applicant because of their race, religion, and, in states like New York, sexual orientation.
A good friend of mine thinks I am nuts. He points out that you can learn a lot about a person from what they post on Facebook. Do you really want a camp counselor, for instance, who brags about how much pot they smoked over the weekend?
Yesterday, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission hosted a meeting/conference discussing the various workplace issues raised by social media and I love the compromise that one of the attorneys, Renee Jackson of Nixon Peabody, suggested as part of the dialogue. First, make sure that social media is just one of several sources you access when doing an applicant background check. Second, have a third-party or employee not involved in the hiring decision review publicly available information about the employee from social media cites. This employee can report just the facts but omit information such as an employee’s race or religion that should not be part of the hiring decision in the first place.continue reading »