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Social Media's Use In Employment Decisions

1248 words - 5 pages

Social media outlets have allowed society to share more information than ever before. The often forgotten fact by internet users is that once a picture, Tweet, or post has been published to a social media site it forever becomes part of the annals of the web. While many believe what they do and say on a social media site will not affect their chances at future employment or provide grounds for termination, the reality is quite the opposite. A new trend has emerged in Employment Law in which employers are making employment decision based off of what they find in applicants or employee’s social media activity. The questions regarding the legality of this practice are extensive. While social media can be a powerful tool in recruitment of a potential candidate, much of the personal information contained on these websites are protected characteristics under existing laws that protect employees from discrimination. Employers need to careful to balance employee’s rights against the business needs of a company.
Social media’s usage in employment decisions has emerged as a contemporary problem in Employment Law for several reasons. The first reason for this trends development is the excessive usage of social media websites. According to a recent Pew report 65% of adults who use the internet have a social media presence in some form. (Hidy 70) With that in mind employers have begun to use the information found within a social media website to obtain information they do not otherwise get on a resume and in an interview. These web pages can give the employer and insight into the true nature of an applicant. However employers need to approach the information on social media websites with care as these sites are easily manipulated and may not have accurate information. Social media websites provide little safeguard to prevent the theft of a person’s likeness and subsequent creation of a false profile. False profiles have the potential to negatively impact a potential employee. Additionally, the candidate themselves can create a false social media presence enhance their image and make them a more desirable candidate. (O’Shea 3-4)
Furthermore, many legal issues have erupted from the use of social media websites as a basis to make employment decision. Legal challenges begin when employers attempt to control the how, when and why current employees use social media sites. A leading concern for employers is when employees choose to use social media websites. Employee’s use of social media websites can lead to a decrease in production and distracted personnel. For an employer the distraction an employee can be problematic. Not only are distracted employees more likely to get into costly accidents the quality of the product they are producing can be affected and may present a safety issue to product users. The two areas that are the most difficult to construct rules around are how and why such sites are used. Employers need to be careful...

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