MySpace and hiring: Convenient, but risky

Tempted to use MySpace or Facebook to do a little research on a potential job candidate? You may want to think twice.

Some experts advise using extreme caution when using social networking sites to learn background information on a candidate. Others recommend staying away from the sites completely.

On anyone’s MySpace profile you can usually find out that person’s gender, relationship status, sexual preference, home town, age, religion and how many children they have. The problem is that all of these topics should be off-limits during the interview process.

Making a hiring decision based on any of the topics just mentioned would be considered discriminatory and could potentially land your company in some legal hot water.

The California Labor & Employment Defense Blog has a full run down of legal issues to be aware of when using the Internet to research job candidates and current employees. Here’s a summary of just a few:

Invasion of privacy. Some social networking state in their terms of service agreements that it is unlawful to use profile information for employment decisions.

State protected privacy. California and New York currently have statutes prohibiting employers from interfering with employees’ private lives outside of work.

Discrimination. Even if an employer came across the information unintentionally, it is unlawful to deny employment based on protected topics such as age and gender.

Take a look at the full post for a complete overview.

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