Employers have one more thing to worry about when they use social media, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Speaking at an EEOC “training institute” in Washington recently, Edward Loughlin, a trial attorney with the agency, noted that users of Facebook (and presumably most other social media) are disproportionately under the age of 40, so if employers recruit applicants through social media, older workers could claim that the practice disproportionately excludes candidates based on age. If social media recruiting does indeed lead to the unbalanced hiring of younger workers, that could be the basis of a “disparate impact claim,” even if the employer has no intention of screening out older workers.
Loughlin said he has not seen such a claim “yet,” and “I’m not trying to alarm people, but this could be a problem,” according to a Daily Labor Report article on his session.
The disparate-impact angle highlights the need for employers to continue to monitor and think about their social media usage and policies to ensure compliance with all laws and with employer policies.
Michael Homans is a Labor & Employment attorney and founding partner of HomansPeck LLC. For more employment law updates, including news and links to important information pertaining to legal developments that may affect your business, subscribe to Michael’s blog, or follow him on Twitter @EmployLawUpdate.