The spread of social media has revolutionized not only the way we connect with friends and family, but also how we conduct business. However, this asset can quickly turn into a liability if misused – for example, in recruiting your company’s most valuable asset – its employees.
Many employers begin the hiring process by using social-media outlets to screen applicants. LinkedIn and Facebook can provide a wealth of information about applicants’ education, their friends, and their personal behavior. Some companies reject candidates based on the content of their social-media pages. This might include anything from inappropriate photos or comments, discriminatory or slanderous statements, and references to alcohol and substance abuse, to sharing confidential information about their previous employers(s), displaying poor communication skills, or exaggerating their qualifications.
Although all of these indicators raise red flags, you could be risking a costly and annoying discrimination lawsuit if you access social-media sites which contain protected class information that’s not privileged in the normal hiring process.
To minimize this risk, it makes sense to:
- When hiring, use outside third parties such as background-verification companies and/or recruiters who document content from social-media sites in selecting candidates.
- Develop and enforce a comprehensive social-media usage policy.
- Purchase an Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) policy