How to avoid employers and social media discrimination lawsuits

EEOC Social Media imageSocial media sites are a great resource when you’re looking to recruit new hires. However, there is concern that the information one can glean from social media sites — such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, to name a few — can cause discriminatory actions to take place, such as a qualified candidate being passed over due to age, race, gender, sexual orientation, or other factors. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) met in March to determine how social media’s prevalence impacts anti-discrimination laws, which the EEOC enforces. The EEOC understands that, now more than ever, social media is prevalent in the workplace and has become a great tool for recruiting, while also being rife with discrimination pitfalls. Here are some ways employers and social media can peacefully coexist, without your business risking a discrimination lawsuit. Use social media to keep employees informed. Social media is first and foremost a way to share information, and your business is welcome to do so. Utilizing a business Facebook page, Pinterest account, Twitter handle or blog allows employers and social media to interact by sharing company information, industry trends, new products or services, and other news with both customers and staff without treading on any discrimination laws. Utilize an impartial third party. When conducting social media checks on a potential candidate, ask an employee that is not involved in the hiring decision to discern factors that you want or do not want in a potential employee. Also, utilize only the information that the candidate has made publicly available, and do not request passwords. (Four states already have laws about employers and social media usernames or passwords, and several others have litigation pending.) Keep your HR department aware of online harassment. Harassment can include comments or actions that relate to one’s race, age, sexual orientation, gender and ethnicity, and should not be tolerated in the workplace. However, just because it happens outside the workplace does not mean that an employee’s misconduct toward a co-worker is not the responsibility of the company. Online interactions between employees should always be appropriate, even during non-work hours. Include a note in your company’s handbook that any harassment, whether it takes place online or in person, should be reported to Human Resources. For more information about ways to avoid EEOC lawsuits over social media issues, contact Mind Your Business today. photo credit: Jason A. Howie via photopin cc]]>

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