Recruiting on social media can lead to discrimination claims

Social media has become integral to our daily lives. A recent survey showed that nearly 1.5 billion users log into Facebook – the world’s most popular social media site – each day. With everybody flocking to social media, it’s a great place for companies to recruit for new talent. Employers are increasingly posting job listings on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms.

However, listing jobs in this way can pose problems for employers. The process of creating a job listing on Facebook contains some potential pitfalls that could put employers at risk of litigation.

Facebook targeting

When you create an ad on Facebook, the platform prompts you to select certain information about the type of audience you want to reach. You can choose the geographic location, age, gender, languages, interests, and behaviors of the target user.

For example, let’s say you decided to open a bourbon distillery in Louisville, and you wanted to announce your grand opening to potential customers. You might create a Facebook ad directed at users age 21 and over with a demonstrated appreciation of bourbon who reside within a 100-mile radius of your business. You would logically avoid making this ad visible to teenagers.

Potential for liability

Being able to accurately target your desired audience through Facebook advertising is very much a blessing, but it can also be a curse. If employers limit the visibility of their job postings too much – to the point of excluding qualified candidates in protected classes – the practice can result in potential employment discrimination.

Let’s look at a related example. You’ve just opened a bourbon distillery, which also doubles as a bar and restaurant, and you need to hire bartenders and wait staff. You want your employees to embody the young, cool vibe you envision for your business, so you publish your job listings on Facebook and only target candidates between the ages of 25 and 35. You’ve effectively excluded qualified candidates outside of this age bracket from ever seeing the advertisement – which could result in age discrimination.

In recent months, many large employers across the nation – including Verizon, T-Mobile, Target, Amazon, and Facebook – have been sued for unlawfully recruiting in this way. Employers who use social media as a recruiting tool should beware of inadvertent discriminatory targeting against certain classes of candidates.

If you have questions about how your organization can safely recruit candidates through social media, call us today.


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