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Employment discrimination may be facilitated by social media

In California and throughout the country, there is a new problem with the glut of personal information that people post online about themselves. It has been revealed that online research by employers is a powerful tool for employment discrimination. Instead of having to ask obviously improper questions during the job interview, for example, the interviewer can now surreptitiously turn to Facebook or another service to get some of the person’s traits, such as age, religion, sexual preference, race and ethnic affiliation.

The prospect can be turned down for the job for prepared reasons that are intended to mask the true reason for the decision, which may be that the person is a Muslim or that she is of a certain ethnic background. Some social media pages of prospective employees will, of course, reveal more information than others. That in itself is a reason to keep one’s details private.

A recent university study revealed that businesses are more and more tending to look up the job prospect’s profile online. The problem with this is that employment discrimination can be so easily hidden after the key prejudicial information has been inculcated into the interviewer’s memory prior to the interview taking place. One traditional way of catching discrimination has been through reconstructing the job interview and looking at the questions asked.

A California employer can more easily engage in employment discrimination with the assistance of the social media explosion. New ways of stopping such tactics are necessary in the digital environment that has unintentionally facilitated these more complex and devious methods of discrimination. Some critics have proposed more controls on social media rules regarding reporting such details to the public. Some say that employers should make interviews anonymous and cut out the temptation of looking the prospect up online. The government could also conduct various kinds of undercover investigations to catch violators, according to some experts.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Applying for a job? Better delete your social media accounts.“, Steven Strauss, Jan. 7, 2016