Social Media in the Workplace: Screening of Prospective Employees
Social media is revolutionizing the way we interact with others - both personally and professionally. With the proliferation of social media use - from LinkedIn to Facebook to Twitter - it has never been easier to gain information about others from the internet.
In the context of the employment relationship and the hiring process, however, employers must exercise caution. For example, Ontario's Human Rights Code explicitly prohibits employers from hiring based on an employer's preference related to sex, ethnic origin, religion, sexual orientation, race, disability or family status. It goes without saying that these same considerations must be followed in the actual interview process itself.
While there is little actual case law on the impact of social media in hiring decisions, employers should develop and follow internal screening processes that comply with their obligations under the Human Rights Code. Having a policy and applying it consistently will assist an employer in the event that its hiring decisions are ever questioned.