Note: I have long been fascinated with all aspects of veterinary business, and the many career paths our DVM degree can provide. When I had the chance to speak with Dr. Charlotte Lacroix, owner of Veterinary Business Advisors, Inc., I jumped. Dr. Lacroix is both a DVM AND a JD! How cool is that?!? She graciously provided us with not one, but FOUR blogs about the legal aspects of social media use in the veterinary world. Stay tuned as we feature one each week in August. Be sure to learn more about Veterinary Business Advisors Dr. Lacroix and Kellie Olah, PHR, on their website, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter. Happy learning! --Caitlin DeWilde, DVM
Guest Blog by Veterinary Business Advisors, Inc.
Let’s say you’ve found the “perfect” candidate for your veterinary tech. She’s skilled, great with animals and compassionate with people. What more could you need, right? But, shortly after you hire her, you notice she regularly uses swear words at work that make others feel uncomfortable and spends too much time sharing her political views with anyone she can corner. There’s no way you could have known that ahead of time, though . . . right? She just knew how to interview well, you tell yourself, and this was an unavoidable problem. Right?
Well, maybe not.
A ten-minute review of her Facebook page (okay, a five-minute review!) told you all of the above, and more. So, does this mean that, going forward, you should check interviewees’ social media pages during the screening process?
If you do, then CareerBuilder.com’s The Hiring Site says you’re not alone. Employers who are reviewing candidates’ social media accounts are steadily increasing:
And, these employers go above and beyond simply reading what can be seen. Many are also sending friend requests to these candidates to obtain full access to a person’s social media profile and postings. In fact, more than one third of employers surveyed do so (35%) – and, interestingly enough, 20% of those requests are turned down by candidates!
Employers say they are looking for positives, not negatives, with 60% wanting information to back up a person’s qualifications, but 21% say, yes, they are checking to see if there are reasons NOT to hire someone.
Is This All Legit?
The short answer is, yes, this is legal when handled appropriately. However, proceed with caution, says hiring site Monster.com. Once you have reviewed a prospective employee’s social media profile, a court will “assume you are aware of that person’s ‘protected characteristics’ that are often part of their online postings.” This includes but is not limited to “religion, age, sexual orientation or disability.” Armed with these insights, you must be especially careful not to ask interview questions that are outside the legal scope, or use this information in your hiring decisions in a way that’s beyond legal limitations.
This article provides insights from David Baffa, a labor and employment partner at Seyfarth Shaw, LLP. His advice includes:
If this all sounds too complicated or fraught with pitfalls, know that this issue isn’t going away. At one time, background checks were considered to be controversial. Phone interviews were thought to be suspect by many employers and telecommuting options seemed impossible.
The reality is that technology, notably the Internet, has radically changed the way the world conducts business, and using social media as a screening tool is likely to only become more common – and, if you resist using it, you may be hurting your chances of getting the candidate that best suits your needs and fits your culture. This isn’t to say that you must use social media as a screening tool, but it does suggest you need to explore options, come up with a well-thought-out policy (even if the policy is to NOT review social media pages of any interviewees) and then strictly follow that policy.