Labor: The legal implications of social networks in the workplace

Employers need to be honest and fair when developing social media policies or checking out future hires

The revolution that is social media is not only causing major reverberations in the workplace, it is increasing corporate exposure to employment-related claims. While more and more employers are using information gathered on social media sites to assist in making employment decisions, they need to understand the legal implications of relying on such information. Emerging legal risks include potential violation of federal and state employment discrimination statutes and unfair labor practice claims arising from an employer’s response to protected concerted activity occurring on a social media site.

Potential violations of anti-discrimination statutes occur when an employer discovers information about a job applicant by viewing social networking sites that it might not otherwise have learned until a physical interview, if even then. While a job application, or even an interview, may not involve the disclosure of information about an individual’s race, religion, marital status, sexual orientation or disability, such information may be readily apparent on an individual’s Facebook page.


author image

Kathleen Furey McDonough

Kathleen Furey McDonough is a partner with Potter Anderson & Corroon LLP, where she focuses her practice on providing clients with counsel on employment policies,...

Bio and more articles

Join the Conversation

Advertisement. Closing in 15 seconds.