EMPLOYMENT LAW BACKGROUND CHECKS
US - Screening a potential hire through social networking sites may potentially lead to legal problems.
Checking out job applicants on social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and LinkedIn has become a widely accepted practice for HR professionals and hiring managers, according to online media HR Morning. For example, HR could discern the candidate's ethnic background, political leanings and sexual orientation from information posted on their Facebook page.
However, HR professionals who utilise these sites as part of their screening process need to beware of possible litigation situations for their organisations. In a formal job interview, questions about an applicant's age, religion, sexual preference, race and medical conditions are forbidden.
A job candidate can sue the company for discrimination, claiming that they were not hired because of information gleaned from their social networking sites.
This does not mean that HR professionals should avoid using social networking sites when screening applicants.
Jacqueline Klosek, senior counsel and privacy law practitioner at Goodwin Procter, suggested that HR can design a formal policy on the types of information "you may gather when screening a prospective employee".
- Establish a policy that all information gathered will be strictly limited to what's needed to establish the person's qualifications for the specific job.
- Have a written description of the job before the screening process begins.
- Distribute a statement to applicants explaining the reasoning behind your Internet screening process.
- Stress that only information relevant to the specific job opening will be considered in the hiring decision.
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