Panel Discussion on Social Media, Background Checks and Employment Screening
May 6, 2010
I was privileged to lead a panel discussion this morning for the Human Resources Management Association of Chicago entitled “Social Networking Issues: The Risks and Rewards Related to Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter”. The panel consisted of David Ritter, chairman of Neal, Gerber, Eisenberg’s labor and employment practice group, Alison O’ Hara, assistant general counsel at Follett Corporation, Courtney Hunt, founder and principal of Renaissance Strategic Solutions (RSS) and Mike Dwyer, senior consultant for Aon’s Organizational Performance and Implementation Group.
The panel focused on educating human resource professionals on the spectrum of social media platforms, how to build both a corporate and personal brand and of course, the pros and cons interacting with social media. We didn’t get very far until the panel was asked what it thought of using social networking sites for background checks and employment screening. I responded with the same thought many of you have heard me offer over the past several years. As attorney’s, I was particularly interested in hearing both Alison and David’s thoughts. David conceded that while there are certainly risks, he can understand why employers might be tempted to look. And Alison mentioned, that there hasn’t been any remarkable litigation to date, but that all it takes is one example of an employer using it as part of an employee check in a discriminatory way to provoke strong reaction from the courts. Both he and Alison agreed that you need to be extremely careful if you decide to engage in this practice. They also said that if you were to find objectionable information, it all came down to a judgement call as far as a hiring decision was concerned.
Just some food for thought as you consider whether this practice is right for your organization.