With special thanks to our data privacy colleagues Jonathan Tam and Helena Engfeldt for their contributions.

It’s increasingly common for employers to use social media during the hiring process. The temptation is obvious — there’s a wealth of potentially useful information about applicants available online. It’s not unreasonable to wish to use social media to understand a prospective employee’s professional qualifications and skills to determine whether they fit with the criteria for the position. It’s no wonder that a recent survey from The Harris Poll finds that seventy-one percent of US hiring decision-makers agree that looking at candidates’ social media profiles is an effective way to screen applicants. Furthermore, 70% believe employers should screen all applicants’ social media profiles, while the majority (67%) say they use social networking sites to research potential job candidates.

Despite the potential benefits, this sleuthing causes significant heart burn for employment and privacy lawyers and HR professionals. While social media can be a fruitful way to find and recruit candidates, a minefield of legal risks appear when companies use social media during the screening process.

Potential Risks

  • Discrimination! Federal, state and local anti-discrimination laws prohibit discrimination in hiring based on a prospective employee’s protected class. The danger of researching applicants using social media is that you may become aware that the applicant belongs to a protected category – something that through the general application process you otherwise would be unaware of. And, you can’t put the genie back in the bottle. If a recruiter or hiring manager has accessed this data, it is difficult to prove that they were not influenced by it in their hiring decision.


Continue Reading Guardrails For Using Social Media During The Hiring Process

If you have employee headcount in Canada, be sure to catch up on the top 10 developments from 2018 . . . 

  1. Legalization of recreational marijuana. Across Canada, the legalization of recreational cannabis has had a significant impact on employers, requiring them to implement changes to their workplace policies and procedures. The legalization of recreational

Last month the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of a class of 1,400 student bus drivers who sued their employer for failing to comply with state background check laws. The Court’s decision is notable because it is part of a broader trend of states and cities making it more difficult for employers to use background checks. Under Connor v. First Student, Inc., employers in California must comply with overlapping statutes regulating investigative consumer reporting agencies.

Continue Reading California Supreme Court Pro-Employee Ruling Affirms Employer Duty To Comply With Overlapping Background Check Laws

The days of the “one size fits all” job application may soon be coming to an end. As federal, state, and local governments increasingly heighten employer hiring process requirements, national employers must be diligent to avoid getting tripped up by the varying rules across different locations. This post will discuss three hiring requirements that are increasingly leaving companies exposed to risk.

Continue Reading Does Your Job Application Need a Check-Up? Three Costly Compliance Blunders to Avoid