“If the applicant is rejected, he or she could allege that the employer’s decision was influenced by information concerning the applicant’s protected status reflected in social media, but not otherwise known to the employer, whereas if the applicant’s social media page was never checked, the applicant could not plausibly make that argument,” Mr. Holshouser says. “However, information from social media often provides legitimate job-related information about a candidate, allowing the employer to make a more informed decision.” For example, the applicant’s social media page might identify a prior employer the applicant failed to disclose on their employment application, or it might reveal sexually or racially inappropriate communications or conduct with co-workers or in the workplace.
‘We require candidates to hand deliver their résumé & cover letter. If someone can’t follow a simple direction like that, then that tells us that they aren’t right for the position.’ —Dr. Wei
Mr. Lee advises checking social media, but notes that states are increasingly banning employers from requiring access to employees’ and applicants’ social networking websites. In fact, third parties that perform social media searches may be subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
The Bottom Line
Ms. Taylor says she has hired all types of employees during her 30 years as a hiring manager. “I have hired people who cheat on their time cards, steal toilet paper, steal food in the fridge, embezzle small amounts of money and those who are argumentative nay-sayers,” she says. “This can occur despite great interviews and references. Yet most of our employees are great ones, who work well independently, yet are still team players, and take pride in their work and in this office. If you have a hunch when you are interviewing that something is not right, go with your hunch.”
If any aspect of the hiring process seems concerning, seek the advice of counsel to minimize potential liability on a future failure-to-hire claim, Mr. Lee concludes.
Karen Appold is a medical writer in Pennsylvania.
- Yager F. The cost of bad hiring decisions runs high. Dice Reports. 2012 Jan 5.
- Ruyle KE. Measuring and mitigating the cost of employee turnover. SHRM [the Society for Human Resource Management] webcasts. 2012 Jul 7.