A recent survey revealed that 92% of companies are using social media for recruiting efforts and 70% are using social media to screen candidates. Companies may use social media to screen employees ‘in’ as being a fit for culture while others seek to screen out.
If it’s on the internet, is it fair game? The answer is not necessarily. There are appropriate concerns around privacy and viewing or using protected class information. Many companies either outsource their social media screening program to a third party or take steps to separate the viewer of social media from the decision maker so that any information that cannot be used in a hiring decision is never seen or considered by the decision maker.
Develop a Policy
Companies that use social media to screen candidates through the recruiting process or as part of their background screening program must have a policy. There are many considerations for policy development depending upon the context and point in time social media is being considered. Every company should also have a well-written job description that is clear about the essential functions of the job.
Be Aware of State and Federal Laws
- Employers must recognize that state laws exist that prohibit certain types of activities related to privacy and existing and prospective employees’ social media accounts.
- When outsourced to a background screening provider, the FCRA and applicable local and state laws apply.
- The EEOC enforces civil rights laws against workplace discrimination based on an individual’s race, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and genetic information. Employers may learn of protected classes when viewing social media.
A Few Questions Employers Should Ask
- What types of social media will be viewed?
- What is a disqualifier?
- Which states have laws against certain activities and social media?
- How will we ensure we don’t view or use protected class information or violate privacy rights?
- How will we match the individual to the account?
- How will we communicate to the applicant if they are disqualified?
Social media screening can be a valuable part of your background screening program. Contact us to learn the services available to our clients and to learn more about how ESR can help you to implement a compliant social media screening program. We will also provide strategies to consider as you make important decisions in developing your social media screening policy.