Workforce Management has come up with another surprising article. (The first one was discussed here recently in Cut on the Bias.) And this time, the fur is flying.
The article is Discriminatory Twist in Networking Sites Puts Recruiters in Peril. If the title seems a bit melodramatic—it really doesn’t hold a candle to the contents. Highlights:
- “Sourcing from professional network sites such as LinkedIn carries a risk that the method could be challenged on discrimination grounds,” says Pamela Devata, a partner at Seyfarth Shaw in Chicago. “It represents a hiring pool that is not open to the general population.”
- “Networking sites, including Twitter, exclude whole populations,” says Jessica Roe, managing partner at Bernick, Lifson, Greenstein, Greene & Liszt in Minneapolis. “The social networks represent limited social groups and very small labor pools. It’s an enormous issue.”
- Paul Mollica, partner at Meites, Mulder, Mollica & Glink in Chicago, has another warning for heavy users of networking sites: “When the OFCCP [Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs] or plaintiffs’ attorneys come along with a discovery request and want to see the trail for recruiting, these employers are going to come up short,” he contends, because “the records are in a digital mist.”
And it’s not over when the sourcing is done. In the selection phase, “using social networks to screen candidates generates additional legal risks,” according to the article. Explains Mollica,“the risk is that visiting Facebook or MySpace pages or even Googling candidates may reveal information that no employer should have in a properly constructed application or interview.”
There are even more perils to be feared, such as the dangers of changing job descriptions and laying off people who were “hired into bad positions.” But if you want to be thoroughly warned, read the whole article.
In the meantime, let’s take a look at the blowback. Commenters are mixed in their responses—but one of them (solubrious1) offers this heartfelt response: “Stop freaking out about pretend legal issues when the real issue is workforce design, the concept of ‘permanent’ work, and the decisions made by political and business leaders (many who also do not use Twitter and Facebook) to de-value Human Resources in the core mission and vision of their organization.”
Meanwhile, one of Workforce Management’s featured blogs (Fistful of Talent) takes aim at the “Discriminatory Twist” article and lets loose with a full-scale rant: Hey Employment Law “Experts”, You’re Killing My Profession . . .
Worth reading, including the comments. Choice quote: “Oh, I forgot. You only care about promoting your little section of the world, which is risk management from a legal perspective. In the meantime, you scare, intimidate and generally freeze the average HR person from adopting tools that can help them do their jobs better . . . “
What’s the relevance of all this for the corporate Careers site? I suspect that similar concerns come up in the context of using social media and blogs as part of employer branding and online recruiting. The problem is (for all concerned) that Genie has left the bottle, and won’t be going back in.
So the inevitable outcome is “a period of adjustment.” Those are never fun.
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