Screening Employees with Social Media While Complying with Houston Employment Laws

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For many years, certain professions require that candidates undergo a background check as part of the hiring process. However, some companies take a “back door” approach to these checks, using social media searches to screen those candidates. A Job vite survey shows that 92% of employers use social media for recruitment purposes, but using it for screening can be a thorny issue.

Hiring and Social Media

For employers, it can be tempting to search a new hire’s social media page to find out about their professional and personal backgrounds. In some cases, those searches can reveal characteristics that may otherwise stay private until the face-to-face interview, such as age, race and gender. Such information, along with that concerning disability, religion and sexual orientation, is protected under Houston Employment Laws. If you face discrimination because of a pre-employment screening, consult the Law Offices of Filteau and Sullivan.

Protected Information

Social media is a common way to recruit new hires, but employers should know how to handle sensitive information to comply with the law. Below are federal laws protecting potential and current employees from discrimination:

  • Title VII, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender, nationality or race
  • The ADEA, which protects those aged 40 and over
  • Titles I and V of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), which prohibits discrimination against disabled individuals who are otherwise qualified for a job

Staying Compliant

To avoid a discrimination suit, employers should wait until an interview before screening a potential employee’s social media accounts. However, even this measure may not fully protect an employer. If they use protected information found on social media during the hiring process, it can influence hiring decisions and leave the employer vulnerable to litigation.

How Companies can Protect Themselves

The easiest way for a company to protect itself is to avoid the use of social media as a screening tool. If an employer does use social media, there are ways to do it carefully and legally, such as:

  • Using it as part of a multifaceted approach
  • Hiring outsiders to do the screening, or using employees not involved in hiring decisions or processes
  • Only using gathered information for business purposes
  • Training HR and hiring personnel how to use social media as a screening tool

Pre-employment social media screening should only be used in combination with other hiring tools, and if the tips above are followed and applied fairly, companies can protect themselves from discrimination suits.