Virtual networking via LinkedIn, third party career sites, and brand-owned subdomains have been normal ways of doing business for years, of course, but the high employment numbers of the late 2010s created some serious competition in the world of recruiting. Seeking an edge to get ahead, recruiters turned to dedicated accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms specifically to post job openings and recruit the best candidates. But even those recruiting tactics eventually led to in-person interviews.
Today–thanks to COVID-19 safety protocols–business owners are having to explore new possibilities. And, pandemic or not, virtual employees are looking like a smart business decision. That means virtual interviewing and vetting is about to become the norm.
The Legal Risks of Social Media Screening
Social media screening of job candidates is just a natural next step in a recruiting process that’s gone entirely virtual, but employers need to know that leaning on previously untested screening processes can lead to legal risks. More specifically, HR teams must have policies in place before implementing social media screening as part of a vetting process because including it as part of a background check can lead to unintentionally discriminatory and/or negligent hiring practices.
How can social media screening lead to discrimination? As we all know, a Facebook or Instagram presence provides a different look into a user’s life than their LinkedIn profile does. Viewing content that was intended for friends can lead a recruiter to make determinations for or against hiring that’s not legally allowed to be considered for that purpose. Anything from hobbies to religious affiliations can create a bias for or against a candidate whether the recruiter meant to consider them or not.
As for negligence, the risk may come after the fact. For example, if a new hire behaves violently towards coworkers or perpetrates a crime in the workplace and there were clues to this behavior in their social media profiles, the recruiter who viewed those profiles won’t be able to claim lack of knowledge of the risk. In both cases, any connection to a candidate’s social media presence can create a legal problem for the employer down the road.
Safer Screening Solutions
Candidate background screening may be better performed by an unbiased third party who knows how to maintain compliance with applicable employment laws. ClearStar mitigates your risks by monitoring ever-changing federal, state, local, and industry-specific employment laws and adapting processes to ensure compliance. Because of COVID-19, protocols are changing fast for most employers. Don’t take unnecessary risks! Ask ClearStar how we can help your business with safe and effective remote candidate background screening solutions today.