Previously, in the Fraud Blog, I’ve discussed many of the issues involved with the use of social media in the investigation process… including pre-employment screening. Certainly, like any other information gathering tool, there is a possibility for misuse of the information found in social media profiles online by potential employers and these are considerations employers should address before they, or their agents, jump into this process with both feet.
Aside from potential privacy violations associated with how the information was gathered, assuming the information was obtained legally and determined to be in the public domain, the hotpoint seems to be the interpretation of the information found online about the candidate, whether that was a factor in the employment decision and how it was applied in the process in conjunction with federal employment and discrimination laws.
That said, while the inclusion of social media information may be a valuable part of any companies pre employment screening (or other investigative processes) – it is not without risks! To mitigate these risks in the pre employment process, companies need to have a solid social media policy which, after clearing employment law review, not only spells out how the information will be obtained, but who will handle the information, where it gets disseminated, how it gets maintained, how it will be applied in the pre employment process, whether all candidates are subject to social media review and whether the information obtained needs to be disclosed in accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) or other federal laws mandating disclosure of use.
Tricky territory to be sure – as with most technology – the legal landscape has yet to catch up with the fast paced technology use.