Few small business owners relish the process of hiring employees. It takes time away from their business, it’s stressful, and most entrepreneurs don’t enjoy interviewing job candidates. What’s more, the hiring process could be opening your small business to legal risks even without your knowing it.
Reading a recent survey by QuickBooks Payroll about small-business hiring, I was shocked by some of the reasons business owners give for not hiring job candidates. Specifically:
- 3% of business owners in the survey have rejected a job candidate due to nationality or race.
- 3% have rejected a job candidate for being too old.
- 13% have rejected a candidate because of their social media history.
Discrimination at work is in the news frequently, but the stories usually focus on discrimination against people who have already been hired. Equally important are the laws that apply to discrimination in hiring. If a person isn’t hired and suspects they were rejected for a reason that has nothing to do with their ability do the job, they could sue your company for discrimination.
Apparently, some small business owners need a refresher course on hiring laws. Here are some areas where you might be making serious mistakes in hiring employees without even knowing it.
Social media activity
Can you use social media to help you make a decision when hiring employees? Well, yes—but this area is full of potential landmines. Here are some rules to follow:
- If you plan to review a job candidate’s social media history as part of the hiring process, make that clear in the job posting and reiterate it during the interview.
- Be sure to conduct the same type of social media review for every job candidate.
- When reviewing social media usage, look at the aspects of the candidate’s social media presence that relate to their ability to do the job—not to their status as a protected class of employee, such as religion, gender, race, or age.
Suppose you’re hiring a salesperson. Looking at how active they are on LinkedIn and how many contacts they have is relevant to the job you’re hiring for. If you want to hire someone who’s very active and effective on social media, examining that aspect of their activity is a reasonable part of the hiring decision.
However, if you see the person posts on LinkedIn about their activities with their church, and you don’t approve of their religion so you decide not to interview or hire them, that is discriminatory.
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Race or national origin
National origin and citizenship status are not the same thing. All employers are required by federal law to verify new hires’ citizenship status using Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. Some 13.75% of employers in the survey I read say they rejected a job candidate because the candidate could not legally work in the United States.