Hampton Roads companies tread carefully with social media hiring practices | Inside Business Continuing Education Work Development

Friends and family may be your most active followers, but they are not your only ones. Potential and current employers may also be looking at that most recent post or profile picture, and they might not “like” what they see.

According to a recent national study by CareerBuilder, 70 percent of employers use social media to screen candidates before hiring, up significantly from 60 percent in the same period of 2016 and 11 percent in 2006. Three in 10 employers have someone dedicated to the task.

According the study, employers who use social networking sites are looking for information that supports their qualifications for the job (61 percent), a professional online persona (50 percent), what other people are posting about the candidates (37 percent) and for a reason not to hire a candidate (24 percent).

Reasons for not hiring candidates were inappropriate photos, excessive or illegal drug and alcohol use, discriminatory comments, rants against a previous company or employee, and lying about qualifications.

But it’s not just job candidates who have to handle their cyber activities with care.

“The risk is an employer can find out things that they can’t unsee,” said Daniel Basnight, a counsel and litigation attorney at Kaufman & Canoles who defends organizations facing discrimination suits.

Under Title VII, the federal primary discrimination law, it is illegal for employers to discriminate in their hiring process based on protected characteristics including race, sex, pregnancy, religion, national origin, disability and age – all which easily could be deduced from a public social media profile. Title VII has no mention of social media directly, which leaves several gray areas.

Lisa Bertini often represents employees in discrimination suits at her Virginia Beach firm, Bertini Law P.C. 

“Employers can get away with a lot…

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