Study Finds Social Media Background Screening by Employers May Discriminate against Job Seekers

The study ‘An Experiment in Hiring Discrimination via Online Social Networks’ by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) has found that sharing too much personal information on social networks may lead to hiring discrimination by employers using social media to screen job seekers, according to a story available at http://www.cmu.edu/homepage/computing/2013/fall/too-much-information.shtml.

The researchers – Alessandro Acquisti, associate professor of information technology and public policy at CMU’s H. John Heinz III College and Christina Fong, senior research scientist at CMU’s Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences – used made-up resumes and online profiles to test “the impact that information posted on a popular social networking site by job candidates can have on employers’ hiring behavior.”

The researchers submitted applications to real job openings at more than 4,000 U.S. employers and “measured the number of interview opportunities a Christian candidate received relative to a Muslim candidate, and the number of interview opportunities a gay candidate received relative to a straight candidate” and found “significant evidence of hiring bias” due to  information candidates shared online.

A report about the study from the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) found “between 10% and a third of U.S. firms searched social networks for job applicants’ information early in the hiring process” and “Christian applicants got callbacks 17% of the time compared with about 2% for Muslims” The WSJ article is available at http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303755504579208304255139392.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. On April 25, 2012, the EEOC approved an updated Guidance on the use of criminal records in employment decisions that is available at http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/arrest_conviction.cfm.

To alert employers to the potential dangers of so-called “social media background checks,” Attorney Lester Rosen, Founder and CEO of Employment Screening Resources® (ESR), has written a whitepaper titled ‘Managing the Risks of Using the Internet for Employment Screening Background Checks.’ The complimentary whitepaper is available to download at http://www.esrcheck.com/Download/.

Rosen has also written a whitepaper titled ‘Practical Steps Employers Can Take to Comply with New EEOC Criminal Record Guidance’ to help employers better understand how to properly use criminal records of job applicants during the hiring process. The complimentary whitepaper is available to employers interested in screening compliance by emailing EEOCwhitepaper@esrcheck.com.

Sources:

http://www.cmu.edu/homepage/computing/2013/fall/too-much-information.shtml

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303755504579208304255139392

About Employment Screening Resources® (ESR):

Founded by safe hiring expert Attorney Les Rosen in 1997, Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority®’– provides accurate and actionable information that empowers employers to make informed hiring decisions for the benefit of their organizations, employees, and the public. CEO Rosen literally wrote the book on background checks with “The Safe Hiring Manual” and ESR is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), a distinction held by a small percent of screening firms. Employers choosing ESR know they have selected an agency meeting the highest industry standards. To learn more about ESR, visit http://www.esrcheck.com or call toll free 888.999.4474.

About ESR News:  The Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) News blog – ESR News – provides employment screening information for employers, recruiters, and jobseekers on a variety of topics including credit reports, criminal records, data privacy, discrimination, E-Verify, jobs reports, legal updates, negligent hiring, workplace violence, and use of search engines and social network sites for background checks. For more information about ESR News or to send comments or questions, please email ESR News Editor Thomas Ahearn at tahearn@esrcheck.com. To subscribe to the ESR News Blog Feed, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/feed/. To subscribe to the complimentary ESRcheck Report monthly newsletter, please visit http://www.esrcheck.com/Newsletter/.