Using social media websites to perform additional research on job candidates is becoming an increasingly common practice. However, InformationWeek says some experts say doing so may expose a company to liability.
The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has set out a number of characteristics, such as age, race or religion, that hiring decisions cannot be based on.
The source says while many things that can be learned from social media websites would be readily apparent during an interview, it's also possible for employers to discover an applicant's religion or something else.
Experts also added that social media research has its uses, such as discovering if an applicant may have a drinking problem that could affect their work. However, they recommended having a person separate from the hiring manager perform this research to avoid unconscious discrimination on other factors.
Even if small business owners make a valid and well-reasoned hiring decision, that does not preclude the potential for a lawsuit. Having employment practices liability insurance can help small business owners ensure their company will be protected.