Reasonable minds can disagree about whether a job candidate should be disqualified because their Facebook profile picture shows them doing a keg stand.
But there's no debating that not hiring people based on their religion is straight-up prejudiced. And, according to the Wall Street Journal, this is occurring as a result of hiring managers screening candidates on social media.
A Gray Area
According to the Journal, a study of companies that screen social media profiles before calling candidates in for an interview, Muslims receive a lower callback rate than Christians. This is particularly pronounced, the Journal reports, in conservative states, where 17 percent of Christians received calls compared to just 2 percent of Muslims. The study, out of Carnegie Mellon University, did not find a similar discrepancy among straight and gay candidates.
Information like this has the capacity to change the way we consider social media screening, from an iffy but reasonable process that helps managers learn more about candidates to one that has the capacity to tread into unethical hiring practices. In other words, things could get legally murky based on this information.
To that end, employment law attorney James McDonald tells the Journal companies should cut their losses and move on from social media screening.
"I advise employers that it's not a good idea to use social media as a screening tool," McDonals says. "You need to control the information you receive so you're only getting information that is legal for you to take into account."