• Use Caution When Checking an Applicant's Social Media
  • December 10, 2014 | Author: Alina Nadir
  • Law Firm: Underberg & Kessler LLP - Rochester Office
  • Last week, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and National Labor Relations Board officials cautioned employers who check prospective employees’ social media during the hiring process. Any personal details or opinions discovered on a prospective employees’ social media should not be considered in a hiring decision, though a hiring manager cannot be prevented from discovering those personal details or opinions.

    Even if a prospective employee has willingly put personal information on the internet, that information should not be acted upon in relation to the hiring decision, especially as an individual’s race, gender, approximate age and possibly ethnicity can often be discovered on social media. The urge to search for a candidate’s social media should be resisted, especially given the risk that information gathered from social media could affect questions asked in an interview. If an applicant suspects the reason he or she did not get a job was due to information gathered from social media, even if the employer did not act upon the information, the applicant could file a charge of discrimination against the prospective employer.

    This warning also applies to gleaning an applicant’s views on labor unions from his or her social media.

    There are two ways an employer can lessen the chances of exposing itself to potential litigation while still checking the information an applicant has put on the internet. The EEOC has advised using a third party vendor that could shield the potential employer from discovering an applicant’s membership in any protected classes, but can inform the employer of any concerning information about the applicant. If an employer chooses not to hire an outside vendor, the EEOC has suggested designating one employee who is trained to disregard protected characteristics, to check applicants’ social media presence, while ensuring that the designated employee does not have a role in determining whether the applicant is hired.