If a potential employer uses a social networking site to check out a job candidate and then rejects that person based on what they see, he or she could be charged with discrimination.
According to Workforce.com, a site that helps HR reps stay current with all matters HR, employers who use the data available on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace to make hiring decisions could be subject to charges of employment discrimination and litigation.
Employers could be accused of using the data on such sites to cull minorities, homosexuals, and other applicants who are members of protected class. It is even illegal in some states to make a job decision based on applicants' political activities, a factor that would be easy to find out on a social networking site.
From the site:
A survey of about 350 employers in October 2007 by New York-based Vault.com, a media company focused on careers, found that 44% of employers use social networking sites to examine the profiles of job candidates, and 39% have looked up the profile of a current employee.
Although "failure to hire" lawsuits are rarer than other kinds of employment litigation, their numbers are expected to increase due to the growing use of social networking sites. There's always a time lapse between problems that arise because of technology and legal precedents that address them.
Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.