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Using Social Media in Background Checks

Published:  October 1, 2018


Social media permeates every aspect of today’s society. The workplace is no exception. Employers are faced with an endless minefield of how to address employee’s social media posts that can potentially impact the employer’s business.

Some companies check social media as part of their standard background check of job applicants. If this is your company, you will want to make sure you have a clear and defined policy regarding backgrounds checks. As with other aspects of employment discrimination law, a social media policy can lead to a potential discrimination claim in the event the company fails to conduct background checks of all applicants. Therefore, companies will want to be sure that they have a clear social media policy that is applied equally to all applicants.

While social media can be a useful tool in learning more about a potential applicant and verifying information that was represented to you during an interview (such as work history or education), it also can lead to a potential minefield for the company. Social media can contain a great deal of personal information, including the applicant’s membership in protected categories. Once a company sees that information, it can be very difficult to “un-see” it when making an employment decision. For instance, let’s assume that a company has two finalists for a position, Candidate A and Candidate B. The two finalists are nearly identical in qualification. The company performs a social media check and discovers that Candidate A suffers from fibromyalgia. The company selects Candidate B for the position. Such a scenario could give rise to a disability discrimination claim by Candidate A.

As always, it is best to consult with employment counsel prior to making any employment decision.


If you have any questions regarding social media posts, or any other aspect of employment law, please contact the attorneys at Royal, P.C.