ROSWELL, GA – As federal lawmakers suggest that companies might be breaking the law by requiring potential employees to open up their social media websites, one Atlanta-area police department said that’s been their policy for quite some time.
They said it is essential to their hiring process.
“I think if you’re not going to relinquish your page, then they’re not even going to consider you a candidate,” said Lisa Holland of the Roswell Police Department. “Police officers are held to a higher standard, so they don’t want any gang activity, underage drinking, anything criminal related on somebody’s Facebook page.”
Holland said the Roswell Police Department has long required prospective employees to open up their Facebook, Twitter and other social media websites for a thorough inspection by the hiring detective during the interview process. The detectives do not ask for passwords to Facebook or Twitter accounts, though they do request to see password-protected information.
Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer from New York said last week that employers may be breaking the law by requiring to see such information that is typically kept private during the interview process.
“Someone interviewing you could get access to information that’s not otherwise public,” Schumer said. “Your religion, whether you’re married or pregnant, how old you are, all the kinds of things that are illegal to ask in an interview process.”
According to Emory law professor Charles Shanor, there’s no law in Georgia preventing employers from digging into potential employees’ social media pages. But he said don’t be surprised if that changes in the near future.
“I suspect there will be legislation eventually passed in congress that tries in a variety of ways to balance the legitimate interest of employers in trying to vet potential employees,” Shanor said.