Overview: In this high-tech age, employers have more resources available than ever before to find job candidates. Online postings, state labor websites, LinkedIn and other forms of social media have taken their place alongside traditional press advertising, employment agencies and employee referrals as effective recruiting methods.
Referrals empower current employees by giving them the opportunity to assist in the hiring process. Employers should be cautious not to rely exclusively on referrals, however, as doing so may create discrimination risks under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act if it means a diverse range of candidates is not considered.
In addition, HR should use gender-neutral and age-neutral terms when posting job advertisements as part of HR's recruiting process to avoid unnecessarily limiting the potential range of applicants.
This holds true with the use of social media as well. While providing new avenues for recruitment, these sites also can provide new discrimination traps for unwary employers that access information about protected characteristics.
Trends: California, Illinois, Maryland and Michigan are among the several states that have recently passed laws prohibiting employers from asking job applicants for their social media passwords. Federal legislation has been proposed to ban this practice, and other states are looking into similar measures.
Author: David B. Weisenfeld, JD, Legal Editor
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