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Social Media and Employment Background Checks

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), an employer cannot delve into your personal life without your permission.  When applying for a job or if you are currently employed, the law says employers need to seek your permission to conduct a background check.  The FCRA requires an employer to ask your permission to conduct a background check and also get written confirmation.  

Rise of Social Media

With the advance of social media and technology, employers don’t only want to take a look into your credit history but want to see what is going on with your social media presence.  While social media is a useful tool for employers, the law governing what is and is not permissible has yet to be developed.  Consumers need to be mindful of online content when employers are able to delve into their personal lives and can question conduct that raises a red flag.

Social Media and Discrimination in Hiring

While employers are prohibited from discrimination against hiring employees based on race, religion, age, etc., an employer can use social media platforms to recruit prospective candidates based on age, race and social interest, which confuses the issue.  An employer looking to recruit should be able to target a specific audience when looking to fill a position. However, there is a fine line as to whether or not this form of recruiting violates federal discrimination laws and the FCRA.

Social Media and Background Checks

In addition to using social media to recruit prospective employees, employers are also using it to review applicants.  This conduct can cause violations of both discrimination laws and the FCRA.  If an employee is able to prove that he or she was negatively impacted and not hired based on information contained in his or her social media profile, then the employee’s rights were violated.  An employer looking to use a prospective employee’s social media account must put the employee on notice of their intent and explain that any information found in the account will be used to make a hiring decision.  Prior to accessing the applicant’s social media platform, the applicant must be afforded the opportunity to dispose of any public information that the applicant does not wish a prospective employer to see. If the employer does not provide the applicant with both notice of their intent to access social media profiles and notice that information found will be used in the hiring decision, that employer is violating the law.

If your social media presence has been used in hiring decisions without you receiving notice from the hiring manager, your rights may have been violated.

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You must be aware of your rights as a consumer to protect yourself .  If you believe your rights have been violated under the FCRA and would like the advice or assistance of counsel, contact SmithMarco, P.C. for a completely free case review. 

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