HR and Social Media

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The Star Tribune had an interesting article in yesterday’s paper about HR and social media and how employers are running into murky legal waters by using social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace to screen job applicants. The gist of the article is that employers risk violating state and federal anti-discrimination laws by using these sites to screen applicants, as they might become aware of protected classes such as race or disability of an applicant and take those characteristics into account when making hiring decisions. In addition, if a potential employers sees a job applicant engaged in legal activities like smoking cigarettes and drinking and takes that in account in a job hiring decision, that too could be illegal.

I have written in the past about the collision between social media and employment, such as employees who are fired for derogatory blog posting or Tweets. In our December 2009 newsletter, I also recommended that companies have social media policies to deter any activities by employees that might lead to terminations because of social media activities. The Star Tribune articles gives a new twist to these issues. Stay tuned to see how the courts will handle this ever-changing area of law.

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