10 Apr 2013

Employment lawyer warns over social media vetting

A leading employment partner at a global law firm has warned companies about social media checks in the fallout of the resignation of the UK's first youth police and crime commissioner Paris Brown.

Social Media: checks may be 'unlawful'

Mayer Brown lawyer Chris Fisher suggested that firms risk discrimination and data protection violations by vetting social media, reports HR Magazine.

Vetting procedures

Ms Brown, 17, resigned from her £15,000 a year position after just one week when it was discovered that she used homophobic, racist and violent language in tweets posted before she took the job with Kent Police.
Crime Commissioner Ann Barnes said social media was not usually checked under Kent Police's vetting procedures, but Ms Brown was asked if there was anything in her past that could embarrass her or the youth PCC post, to which she responded ‘no’.

Background checks

Mr Fisher warned that searching for personal details on social media, such as age or religion, could ‘constitute unlawful direct discrimination’ under the Equality Act 2010.
He also stated that the Employment Practices Data Protection Code ‘recommends employers give job applicants the opportunity to comment on the accuracy of any background checks or information it has obtained about them’.