Lawyer Tells Client NOT to Use Social Network Sites in Hiring Process?

twitter-antiWith the increase in social networking websites, there has been a corresponding increase in the “learning curve” as to how to properly use them.  The mainstream media and legal profession have shown us that Tweeting jurors, incriminating evidence on MySpace, and Facebook posts about personal misadventures is a bad idea for job-seeking and staying out of jail.

In short, we’ve been warned.

Now comes word that at least one lawyer is telling an employer NOT to use social network information?

According to the article, Bank Nixes Use of Social Networking Sites in Hiring Process, one lawyer is suggesting that her large banking client not use this information.  Why?  Because of concerns that employees or would-be employees would claim that the decision NOT to hire was based off of some discriminatory reason, such as seeing online photos of the applicant’s babies and making a discriminatory decision.

How would the applicant know?  There’s the risk that someone in HR talks too much.  How do you protect against it?  Block social networks from being accessed.

Going against the mainstream certainly makes this lawyer and her advice stand out.  We’re not going to suggest she’s wrong — it is a well-reasoned theory.  Employees inclined to say dumb things are going to exist whether they have access to the internet or not.  Facebook profiles and information are typically private unless someone is accepted as a “friend”; taking one piece of information from a Tweet, blog or MySpace page (e.g., the applicant pictured with young children) is a stretch to suggest that THAT one sliver of information was why someone was not hired.  Instead of shying away from freely-available information, what about developing a clear policy of handling it?

Your thoughts welcome via the “comment” link below.