In a new study conducted by the researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, it was revealed that about one-third of U.S. companies rely on social media to snoop on prospective hires.
According to the said research, as employers searched for an applicant’s social media profile and found photos or posts suggesting that the latter is a Muslim, he or she is said to be 14 percent less possible to be hired than an applicant who is a Christian.
Although the difference between the two religions is not statistically significant on a nationwide basis, in some conservative states, it is a big deal.
“Technology is making it easier and more frequent to explicitly and implicitly reveal personal information about ourselves…that can be accessed by employers very easily and with very little detection,” said Alessandro Acquisti, co-author of the research.
“The potential for discrimination via social media is another example of the tension between the law and evolving technology,” he added.
The lists of existing federal labor laws do prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, disability, age and pregnancy. However, there have been no laws that directly suggest that employment discrimination through the use of social media is illegal. Also, under the ENDA, which is currently trying to score a vote in the House of Representatives, it only prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender orientation and sexual preference; nothing about making employment decision based on what they search online is cited on the said legislation.
Recently, some states are trying to explore legislation that would prevent employers from being able to request an applicant’s social media password from applicants and employees. However, such measure seems to have vanished.
Given that social media is an increasingly loud advantage for job seekers to maintain and show off their updated online portfolios, it is likewise a subtle avenue for them since this is where most employers can discriminate them without their knowledge.
Any unsuspecting photo displaying his faith or holding a same-sex partner’s hand could hinder a jobseeker’s chances of getting hired.
Apparently, since it is now illegal for employers to discriminate against applicants based on their religion or sexuality under the existing labor laws, employers tend to consult Facebook Twitter, and other social media sites, if they really want to know.
In Los Angeles, although several companies have a current policy that creates legal risk for managers snooping through social media profiles during the hiring process, a discrimination attorney advises job hunters to be careful in choosing what to share on social media. “Although social media a powerful way to land a job, it could also keep you unemployed,” he said.