Employers Abuse Social Media To Infringe On Jobseekers’ Rights, Invade Their Privacy
Continued popularity of social media has provided employers with unregulated too.
Published: Sunday, May 20, 2012
Updated: Sunday, May 20, 2012 13:05
The fierce competition for jobs has revealed some employers’ dirty trick to select who gets a foot in the door of their companies by asking jobseekers to reveal passwords to social media sites like Facebook. Employers then use this exceptional invasion of privacy as a screening tool for deciding who to hire for an open position.
Several laws make it illegal for an employer to ask about age, marital status or pregnancy, citizenship, disability, drug use, smoking or drinking, religious beliefs and race. Employers may still attempt to indirectly inquire about these off-limit topics, but doing so is a clear violation of anti-discriminatory laws, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
When former Maryland corrections officer Robert Collins was asked to re-interview for a job after a leave of absence, Collins was asked for his social media passwords so the interviewer could look for incriminating pictures of gang affiliation. Collins reluctantly agreed, according to Mercury News, but later filed a lawsuit with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Maryland may become the first state to outright ban the practice of employers snooping in the private lives of jobseekers after passing legislation prohibiting employers “... from asking current and prospective employees for their usernames and passwords to websites such as Facebook and Twitter,” according to the Baltimore Sun. In California, state Sen. Leland Yee is considering taking similar action.
Needing a job in a tough economy may be enough for job candidates to practically hand over the keys to their front door to convince prospective employers that they are indeed the right candidates for the job. Refusing to divulge social medial passwords or answer prohibited questions during a job interview is unfortunately likely to result in rejection.
As students graduate college and start looking for work, the odds of being confronted by requests for passwords is high. According to Tony Morrison of Mashable Social Media, the best way to deal with the situation is to politely inquire about the relevance of one’s social life and online profile to the job requirements. Depending on the answer, students may then decide if working for such an invasive and micromanaging company is in their best interests.