Suppose you have a job applicant and you wanted to know more about the person. Before going to his or her social media sites, there are ethical and legal aspects you should consider, according to Christine Kearns, managing partner at the DC office of Pilsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman. Kearns was one of the presenters at the TRENDS Live Breakfast this week on communications law.
Kearns noted several potential danger points in using such sites:
- Discrimination claims due to personal information revealed. These sites contain information that are deliberately not asked for on application forms and in interviews.
- There might be state laws (such as in New York and California) that prohibit discrimination based on lawful nonwork conduct.
- Defamation claims resulting from sharing of (possibly false) information from social networking sites, especially, beyond those with a “need to know.”
- Violation of Fair Credit Reporting Act - governs employers’ use of consumer reports; specific steps required before and after taking an adverse action based on the consumer report.
- May violate state laws limiting the use of credit information and criminal history in employment decisions.
- Invasion of privacy claims. Details: www.pillsburylaw.com.