People love to share information about themselves on social media and employers haven taken notice. According to 2013 research by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 20 percent of employers use social media to screen applicants (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google Plus). However, 74 percent of employers said they were concerned with legal risks such as discovering protected characteristics like age or religious affiliation. Sixty-three percent said the information on social media sites may not be a good predictor of performance or potential, and 61 percent didn’t think the information was relevant to whether or not the applicant would blend in well with the organization.
States are leading the charge to safeguard individual privacy rights and New Hampshire has become the 18th state to do so. Below is the complete list of 18 states that ban social media searches for employment purposes:
What does this mean for employers? First, it’s not a best practice to be asking for this type of personal information from employees and applicants or reading their social media postings.
In some states, forcing someone to reveal social media postings is a punishable offense with fines in the range of $500 to $1,000. Some states allow civil actions to be brought against employers by employees and applicants.
Therefore, employers should ensure that their social media policies follow best practices and are clear and in compliance with the law.
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