Solicitors warn against networking sites
USING social networking sites to vet job candidates could land employers in hot water, employment lawyers at city firm Hegarty LLP Solicitors have warned.
Bosses should avoid using social networking sites, including Facebook and Myspace, to vet job candidates as it could leave them vulnerable to discrimination claims.
Martin Bloom, partner and head of employment law at the firm, said: “Using these sites to canvass more information about an employee, or an interview candidate, is potentially risky for an employer. For example, it is possible to ob- tain information about a person’s sexual orientation or religious beliefs that can impact, or is perceived to impact, on the decision made to recruit or not recruit that person - this can lead to discrimination claims.”
The Employment Practices Data Protection Code states that an employer should only use vetting where there are particular and significant risks involved to the employer, clients, customers or others, such as working with children or vulnerable people. However, employers should not place reliance on information collected from social networking sites as it is potentially unreliable.
Employees should also be aware of potential problems from “befriending” their employers on these sites and should choose to have their webpage on a privacy setting where possible.
“The dismissal of employees for comments made about employers on social networking sites can also lead to unfair dismissal claims,” added Mr Bloom. “However, an employer may be able to defend themselves against such a claim if they can show the dismissal was a reasonable response to the conduct of the employee.”