Legal Issues Surrounding Social Media Background Checks

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Agatha Christie had a novel take on invention being the mother of necessity. She disagreed and said, “[I]nvention, in my opinion, arises directly from idleness, possibly also from laziness. To save oneself trouble.” She may have been onto something when you think about businesses that are turning to outside vendors to research employees and job candidates for them. Whether or not these outside vendors are the best solution, however, remains to be seen.

We recommended earlier this year that businesses establish an internal procedure for making employment decisions based on Internet research, so they would not run afoul of state and federal laws that prohibit job discrimination based on protected factors. The protected factors include, for example: (1) Race, color, national origin, religion and gender under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; and (2) Sexual orientation, marital status, pregnancy, cancer, political affiliation, genetic characteristics, and gender identity under California law. Most states have their own list of protected factors, which should be considered depending on where your company has employees.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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