Not so very long ago, when someone needed a new job, they asked around their local community and scoured the newspapers for ads targeting jobseekers. Nowadays, most “job hunting” occurs online. When aspiring workers first started using the Internet to find new positions, they simply entered their contact information and answered basic questions on sites like Monster and Craigslist. Those days are gone.
Now, when individuals search for employment online, they are often prompted to input significant information about not just their job history and educational background, but also their identity online. They may be asked to supply information about their race, gender, date of birth and a host of other information that could be used against them in discriminatory ways.
Additionally, employers are searching social media for information about candidates in ways that lack transparency and don’t give applicants an opportunity to respond to whatever search results may unveil.
Understandably, these evolving job search approaches are raising concerns that employers may be skirting federal anti-discrimination laws related to hiring in ways that are going unchecked.
Job applicants have rights
Last month, NPR reported that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is actively trying to address discriminatory treatment of applicants based on algorithms, bots and other technology utilized by companies as part of their online hiring efforts.
It is critically important that the EEOC is embracing this challenge because it is one of the few agencies with both the authority and the reputation to make a difference in this area of American life. But until the EEOC figures out how to regulate this challenge effectively, job applicants will need to remain both informed about their rights and willing to push back if they are unlawfully mistreated during the hiring process.