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Employers Warned Over Online Recruitment Research

New concerns have been raised over employers’ use of social networking websites to look up potential employees when they apply for a position at a company.

The ubiquity of online sites now ensures that candidates, can, to a certain extent, be assessed on their suitability for a position without first being invited to an interview.

But employment law experts are warning HR departments to be cautious when rejecting candidates on the basis of their online profile and feel some companies are leaving themselves open to discrimination claims.

Discrimination legislation protects applicants against prejudice and states that job-hunters have the right not to be discriminated against on the grounds of sex, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief and age.  Employers often forget that an applicant has these rights and substantial claims can quickly follow suit, particularly if it is found that a potential employee has been ‘researched’ before a decision was made.

Recruitment and human resource professionals are now commonly using a variety of online sites to look up candidates, including highly popular networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

The only way an employer can try to protect itself from these claims of discrimination is if they can prove that the rejection of an individual was down to objective reasons, such as being unsuitable for a role in terms of their experience.  Decisions must not be affected by personal intolerance for a particular demographic.

The main concern in relation to rejecting candidates after viewing them online is that it may be more difficult to show the rejection was an objective one.

It is a serious misjudgement to reject an applicant on the basis of their web profile due to the discriminatory issues that might arise, and employers should be aware the pitfalls of such a practice.


Solicitors Blog

Lanyon Bowdler is a trading name of Lanyon Bowdler LLP which is a limited liability partnership incorporated in England and Wales, registered number OC351948. It is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Thank you to Phil Barrett for the photos of Shrewsbury, Hereford, Oswestry and Telford, to Jonathan Greatorex for those in and around Ludlow and to Russell Davies for the faces of Lanyon Bowdler.