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Is Social Recruiting a Growing Hotbed for OFCCP Claims?

CIO.com recently published a very informative article titled “Social Networks: A New Hotbed for Hiring Discrimination Claims.” The article gives a comprehensive perspective into the world of corporate recruiting, particularly how recruiters are using social networks more and more to evaluate potential hires.

Social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter give recruiters and hiring managers the chance to look at a potential candidate’s everyday life, work habits and personal information. Increasingly, recruiters are this information to determine whether a candidate is a good fit for their company. However, using their findings as the basis for a hire can lead to a heap of discrimination claims against the company.

In this article, CIO.com spoke with HR consultant Jessica Miller-Merrell about some of the risks involved with using social networks to make hiring decisions. She outlines potential legal risks including niche demographic breakdown of specific social networks as well as the need for concise affirmative action reporting for government contractors. Furthermore, she says that making “hiring decisions based on protected information that a candidate provides on the internet… can get you in hot water”.

This is a topic that Newton Software, an easy-to-use applicant tracking software, has been following very closely. Newton’s own Joel Passen, interviewed Dr. Stephanie Thomas, one of the leading experts on the analysis of equal employment opportunity issues, almost a year ago for a podcast titled, “Can Social Recruiting Lead to Discrimination and Equal Opportunity Issues”.

There’s been a growing trend of workplace discrimination claims getting submitted over the past several years, and the addition of social networking as a hiring tool is bound to only increase the rate of claims. Every year, companies face many challenges in following confusing regulations that require them to provide detailed reports to various federal agencies.

These are the very factors Newton took into account when we decided to build EEOC/OFCCP compliance features into our recruiting software. We realized that companies already face a great risk in regards to complying with the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs for government contractors.) Bad or ignorant hiring practices and decisions can sink a business due to costly litigation battles over wrongful discrimination.

Newton’s EEOC /OFCCP Compliance tools make sure that all the right information gets collected, stored and tracked regardless of the source of the data. Voluntary self-identification surveys, reasons for non-selection, hire/offer logs, minimum qualification questions and flow logs (EEO1 reports) are just some of the tools that can help recruiters and human resources professionals keep track of all the mandatory information. Newton makes EEOC and OFCCP compliance a seamless part of the hiring process, so that when the time comes, a company does not need to scramble to deal with a problem.

While we haven’t yet seen a general precedent set regarding social networks and social recruiting, experts agree that it’s just a matter of time. As more companies start to use social networks as recruiting tools, there will be a social media recruiting precedent before you know it. For now, our advice is to seek guidance from counsel especially before using social media to vet applicants and to always have a consistent, compliant process in place when distributing job related information to social networks.


Levinson, Meredith. “Social Networks: A New Hotbed for Hiring Discrimination Claims.” CIO.com. April 18th, 2011. http://www.cio.com/article/679830/Social_Networks_A_New_Hotbed_for_Hiring_Discrimination_Claims_?page=1&taxonomyId=3123

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Stephen Peteritas

I mean I think social networks make it much easier to profile people BUT I feel like it’s impossible to prove that you’ve been profiled via a social network, with out a lot of leg work. Honestly I’d steer clear of social networks in hiring just because I know my own social network activity doesn’t reflect my professional persona.

Michael Audelo

Depending on the nature of the position, as a hiring authority you need to be sure of who you are hiring. Someone that constantly shows questionnable judgement/behavior on a social networking site may not show that inclination during the hiring process, at least I hope not. But, if this person joins your organization and then goes on to perform in an unacceptable way, you may have a hard time defending youself. It goes back to the old hearing days of “what did you know, and when did you know it?” As hiring managers we have to CYA (Cover Your Agency) and take resaonable steps to make sure the workforce reflects the standards set for our agency.

Since everything on the internet stays there forever, I remember a mentor saying “never put anything out there you wouldn’t want your grandmatoher to see”

Susan Thomas

In all things moderation. Technology can certainly help us as hiring managers, but it cannot be the only tool we use. I would never base hiring decisions on social networking profiles. People have different personas whether good or bad.

Alicia Mazzara

I think it’s interesting that the rate of EEOC claims has increased in recent years. I wonder if social networking is driving that or if there are other factors that are making people more likely to file claims. Overall, I don’t think a lot of good can come from using social networking to profile candidates. In most positions, someone’s personal life shouldn’t influence a hiring decision. Even if you’re not basing the decision on the candidate’s Facebook profile, etc., just looking at it and seeing a person’s political affiliations or hobbies can create bias.

Wendell Black

Here’s the thing, Facebook is mostly used for personal social networking whereas LinkedIn is more for professional networking. If you are looking to hire someone and you discover that they have a Facebook page, but it’s set to “private”, what do you do when the potential hire tells you “no, my page is private and you cannot review it.” It could be possible that the individual feels that what they do at home is their business and has nothing to do with the hiring agency.

Hiring someone based on social networking profiles is a very slippery slope that will only lead to problems in my opinion.