Social media has burgeoned into a whole new world—socially (duh), economically, and legally, to say the least. And while the laws on equal employment opportunities in Texas are pretty clear, some employers might find themselves facing civil suits from candidates who called up a law firm in San Antonio if they can prove that the employer didn’t hire them based on information illegally gleaned from their Facebook page or other social media account online, this article reports.
Not that being a social media sleuth is illegal, per se, but “there are permissible ways and employer can use social media in the context of employment screening, and impermissible ones.” When a company gets into tricky territory is when they’d leverage their own employees to conduct informal social media checks on an applicant or employee rather than using companies like those “who operate under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and lawfully provide such information.”
The lines that are easy to cross, an attorney like Micah F. McBride, familiar with civil suits and working with a law firm in San Antonio would say is when information garnered from in-house screening about an individual “may lead to a discriminatory employment practice.” Basing any interviewing or hiring decisions on information relating to “race, gender, national origin, color, religion, age, disability or genetic information” are pretty much guaranteed an employer a call from a lawyer.
But trolling social media sites for information may have ramifications beyond a lost job, as the linked article above implies. Police and law enforcement admittedly use social media to sniff out dirt for investigations, but the implication is that posting anything regarding your immigration status on Facebook may not be in your interest if you have a pending case with an immigration law firm in San Antonio or are trying to fly under the radar.
It’s fun, it’s a great way to connect and keep up or spread news and information, but we often forget how incredibly public social media can be, even when “privacy settings” are at their highest. Essentially, if it’s on the Internet, it can be found by anyone who looks hard enough, so being wise about what you publish as a user is always prudent.