Blanchard & Walker Weekly

Topic of the Week  Social Media Privacy in Employment

About 79% of adults in the U.S. use a social networking site. Because of this, screening social media pages is becoming an increasingly popular part of the hiring process. 70% of companies say they look up job candidates on social media and out of that group, 57% claim to have rejected a candidate based on their profile content. This is legal as long as the information found that counts them out of the job has nothing to do with discrimination towards their age, race, gender, ability, religion, etc.

Q:  Can my employer legally fire me for the content that I post on my personal website, blog, social networking, or social media website?

A: Generally, an employer can fire you for off-duty conduct, such as having a personal website or blog that it deems inappropriate, with very limited exceptions. Even if you have a non-work-related website that you don't access from your office, employers can fire you if they feel the content on your personal site or blog is offensive to them and potential clients, or reflects badly on the company. However, some states have different laws.

Q: Can an employer ask for my password to look at my social networking and social media usage?

A: There are no federal laws that prohibit an employer from requiring an employee or job applicant to provide login information for their social media accounts. However, more than twenty states have adopted legislation regarding employer’s access to employees’ and applicants’ social networking usernames and passwords. Most of these laws place a limit employer access or prohibit employers from taking negative actions against employees who don’t provide this information.

Thought of the Week

"I have heard it said that there are only two times when a person is perfect: at birth and at a job interview. Employers use background checks to get a fuller picture of the candidate than an interview reveals [and] social media screening is one way to enhance this check to determine whether a candidate should be hired."

–Jonathan A. Segal, HR Magazine

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

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