Technology, Recruiting, and (Gulp!) Lawyers, Part 2

Drea Codispoti, CPC

Who is Bob Style?
Robert P. Style is a well-known attorney specializing in the search and placement industry. He is also the counsel for the National Association of Personnel Services (email:; phone: 215-732-7131).

Why is Drea reposting his legal updates?
Because I can!  And the more recruiters hear and read about what Bob has to say, the better and more educated the recruiting industry will become.  That is a great formula for evolution.

So . . . without further ado:

“Technology, Recruiting, and (Gulp!) Lawyers, Part 2”

In Part 1 of this series, disparate treatment was broken down for us.  (According to the Labor Department, disparate treatment occurs when members of a racial, sexual, or ethnic group are denied the same employment, promotion, membership, or other opportunities available to other employees or applicants.)
We’ll see how in the world this concept relates to LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social networking websites.

Should you be concerned?  Well a lot of management employment attorneys at some of the nation’s largest law firms are.  Here’s what they’re saying.

The managing partner at a large firm in Minneapolis: “Networking sites, including Twitter, exclude whole populations.  We’re going to end up with a very homogenous work force.  The social networks represent limited social groups and very small labor pools.  It’s going to be an enormous issue.”

More from this attorney: “Social networking sites are problematic because the population is limited and highly selective.  I anticipate more race and age claims over the next two years, and a significant portion will be from sourcing through social networking sites, where the users are generally white and age 20 to 40.  We’ll see lawsuits.”

From a partner at a large multi-national firm’s Chicago office: “Sourcing from professional network sites such as LinkedIn carries a risk that the method could be challenged on discrimination grounds.  It represents a hiring pool that is not open to the general population.  Using a limited network may have a disparate impact.  If hiring through these networks can be challenged, it will be.”

From another big-firm Chicago lawyer: “If your business practice is to use Twitter, and the existing pool–those in the population in general–is 50 percent female and 20 percent minority, but you’re down to 0 percent for both groups because your digital network is heavily male and non-minority, then you must establish that there is a business necessity for the practice.  The first company that gets sued for this will have to be very resourceful because it will be very difficult to establish a reason for relying exclusively on Twitter.”

From that same attorney: “Identifiers that might normally not be apparent, such as religion, pregnancy, age, and sexual orientation may be revealed on social networking sites.  The risk is that visiting Facebook or MySpace pages or even Googling candidates may reveal information that no employer should have in a properly constructed application or interview.”

Furthermore: “If you wouldn’t ask a question in an interview or on an application form, why would you expose yourself to the information in any way?  Once you’ve seen it, you can’t pretend that you didn’t.”

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