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Social media is no longer relegated to leisure and selfies. Employers have integrated social media to assist in recruiting and hiring top talent.  For example, it is now the “norm” to post and publicize job listings on social media platforms to recruit prospective applicants.In addition, many employers use social media to help investigate and evaluate candidates by reviewing their profiles, interests, public statements, posted photographs, and other information, assessing whether the candidate is a right fit for the company.

The use of social media in recruiting and hiring is fairly new. As a result, there are certain legal issues and pitfalls that employers encounter which they may not have anticipated or prepared to address. Below are tips to effectively use social media for recruiting and hiring without exposing your business to liability.

Tip No. 1 -Treat Job Postings on Social Media Platforms with the Same Care and Protocols as “Traditional” Job Postings

It is important to understand that job postings on social media platforms must adhere to the same regulations under federal discrimination laws as other more “traditional” job listings.As a result, employers who have at least 15 employees on payroll must maintain a record of the text of any such social media job postings for at least one year from the date of the posting.

Tip No. 2 – Mitigate the Risk of Unlawful Discrimination by Not Delving Too Deep Into an Applicant’s Social Media Profiles

Many job candidates may inadvertently share too much personal information on their social media profiles. For example, a profile may reveal a candidate’s religion, age, ethnicity, national origin, medical history, race, pregnancy, or gender of an applicant.  This creates a potential risk for employers because reviewing this information and reaching an adverse hiring decision could lead to a candidate alleging that you, the employer, made a discriminatory hiring decision. As a result, it may be prudent to avoid a “deep dive” into a particular candidate’s social media profiles and instead focus on getting a general overview of a candidate’s “digital life” or “personal brand.”

Tip No. 3 – Never Ask for an Applicant’s Social Media Login Credentials

You should never ask for a candidate’s social media login credentials. In fact, doing so could be a violation of law. Approximately 26 states enacted legislation that generally prohibits employers from requesting the usernames and passwords of either job applicants or current employees.In addition, there isa federal law on the books known as the Stored Communications Act (“SCA”) that prohibits the unauthorized accessing of an electronic communications facility.  Basically, the SCA established that if an employer coerces an applicant to obtain their login credentials, they are in violation of federal law and could be subject to actual damages, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees.

Tip No. 4 – Consider Separating the Hiring Manager from the Individual Tasked with Inspecting Social Media Profiles

To provide a layer of legal protection for your business, consider designating an employee with no hiring authority, or even retaining an outside organization,to examine the social media profiles of job applicants. Make sure the individual or company that is tasked with examining social media profiles, does so without placing any weight on an applicant’s age, race, citizenship, creed, disability, ethnicity, gender, or any other protected category.

Have Questions About Using Social Media for Recruiting and Hiring? Speak to an Experienced Business Lawyer in Los Angeles Today

If you have questions about the most effective strategies for using social media to recruit and hire talent, do not hesitate to contact the Hakim Law Group. We are comprised of professional, trusted and reputable business attorneys in Los Angeles who can help you get your business on the right track. For additional information or to schedule an appointment please call us at 310.993.2203 or visit to learn more.