Social Media and Employment
THE NEW JOB SEARCH
54% of employers have said content they have found on a social media profile has caused them not to hire the candidate, compared to only 29% of hiring managers that revealed they found positive information that drove them to hire the candidate.
STILL UNDER SCRUTINY ONCE YOU GET THE JOB
Half of employers monitor current social media activity of current employees; 34% of employers have found online content that caused them to reprimand or fire an employee. But what about Freedom of Speech?
The 1st amendment simply prevents government interference with your speech—with limited exceptions like yelling “fire” in a crowded theater—you cannot be jailed, fined, or otherwise punished by the government simply for stating an opinion. As private companies, most employers are not part of the government and are not subject to these limitations.
When an employer fires an employee for their social media posts, they are generally not firing the worker simply for the content of their speech. Employers rightfully cite violation of the company’s social media policy or some other violation with regards to the post, such as insubordination; revealing confidential information or trade secrets; discriminatory or insensitive content; or using social media during work hours and/or on company-issued equipment. Know what your employee handbook says regarding social media use!
Florida is a “right to work,” “at will” employment state; generally, this means no reason need be given for firing.
NOT HAVING SOCIAL MEDIA CAN BE WORSE
57% of employers say they are less likely to consider candidates without some social media presence and 92% of companies use social media for recruiting—if you’re not online, you’re missing out.
DISCRIMINATION: THE EMPLOYERS’ PERSPECTIVE
Until the advent of social media, employers used to not know much about the candidate beyond the resume before the interview. Looking at social media prior to scheduling interviews can make employers privy to information that is impermissible—race, age, handicap, marital status, etc.—and that can open employers up to claims that they made hiring decisions on a discriminatory basis.
The “Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992,” Fla. Stat. 760.10, prohibits discrimination “with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, national origin, age, handicap, or marital status.”
Notably, gender identity and sexual orientation are absent. In 2018, H.B 347 and S.B. 66, the “Florida Competitive Workforce Act” was introduced,which would have added sexual orientation and gender identity as impermissible grounds for discrimination, but did not pass.
Further, the statute defines “employer” as employing 15 or more employees and therefore is not applicable to many smaller businesses.
THE JOB-SEEKERS’ PERSPECTIVE
Unfortunately, if a job seeker simply doesn’t get call backs for an interview, they will not know if an employer is discriminating against them on an illegal basis. Social media is an extension of our real lives and how we represent ourselves on social media can be just as important in our job search as how we present ourselves at a job interview.
If you are job searching, take these steps before sending out another resume!
- Consider your privacy settings: who can see what?
- Remove provocative/inappropriate images;
- Remove any references to illegal drugs or criminal activity;
- Evaluate your handle or screen name; your email address should be professional-sounding;
- Remove any references to former employers and coworkers, especially negative;
- Make sure your resume and social media are consistent, especially LinkedIn;
- Limit public access to information as much as possible that could form the basis for a discriminatory decision, like marital status, pregnancy, handicap, religion, etc.