Today, Keith and I are happy to have Eric Meyer on the show discussing social media as it applies to at-will employment and HR. A partner in the employment group at FisherBroyles LLP, Eric Meyer is a volunteer EEOC mediator, a paid private mediator, and publisher of “The Handbook.” https://www.theemployerhandbook.com/
We start off the conversation with this simple and relatable question - “How has social media changed in the last few years, and how should employers be using social media?”
Eric’s take on this is that it’s common knowledge that businesses can gain a huge economic advantage from responsibly using social media platforms, and if they are using these platforms, it should come as an obvious fact that companies need to be training their employees to use social media responsibly. This training should cover everything from how one can adjust their privacy settings to instilling awareness in employees that whether or not they are on the clock, they are still accountable for the things they post, tweet, and type.
For example, if an employee goes home at the end of the day and posts something that is discriminatory, racist, or simply paints the company in a bad light, then the company has every right to fire them. This is a working example of “at-will” employment.
As far as the recruiting aspect of social media, Eric recommends to companies that they create and implement a standardized set of hiring criteria that is applied evenly across the candidate board. This set of hiring criteria is non-negotiable and applies to every applicant being considered for the position. What comes across the desk of the final person making the hiring decision should be clear facts and credentials regarding the candidate, a picture painted from the company’s absolute hiring standards and not based on a person’s race, religion, etc.
Moving forward, I asked Eric what his thoughts or suggestions are on how employers should be handling #MeToo and discrimination complaints.
First, Eric states that it’s extremely important for companies, managers, and employees to take these complaints seriously. Again, having a clearly written company handbook that states what is tolerated in the workplace and what is not, as well as a list of the avenues that one can go down to place their complaint, is essential.
Additionally, it’s worthy to note that each complaint case is different and should be handled accordingly. There are instances in which an employee may consider something said to them as discrimination, when in fact, it wasn’t, by legal or company standards. In these cases, educating the employee or providing counseling while striving to not make them feel like their complaint was unnecessary, is important.
Aside from these great thoughts, and steering our talk towards technology, I ask Eric to consider the fact that we know that tech’s pace of change is going to continue happening, and it’s going to keep happening quickly. Knowing this, what impact does he see Artificial Intelligence making in the workplace and are they positive changes?
His response was solid. “Using AI for recruiting is only as good as those programming it.” For instance, consider Amazon’s great debacle when it came to light that their algorithm was ignoring a high percentage of female applicants. AI in anything, especially recruiting, ultimately comes back to the humans creating the program, codes, and algorithms.
So, Eric advises that companies make certain that they are auditing their hiring processes and not inadvertently discriminating against a certain class.
Summing up our conversation, I ask Eric what he sees coming up next in employment law.
He believes that the next big thing in 2019 will be the Supreme Court taking up an LGBTQ case and using it to define the instances that violate anti-discriminatory laws in regards to these classes.
Contact Eric Meyer