In Social Media Recruiting & Social Media Discrimination of this five part series, I outlined some of the types of protected classes and discussed some real world possible scenarios regarding your company and social media discrimination. In EEOC & Workplace Discrimination, I outlined potential liabilities and government agencies that are learning about social media. Disparate Impact & Disparate Treatment in the Workplace discussed disparate and adverse impact. This series has been extremely popular. It’s generated some great conversations and felt it should continue. Part 4 without much further ado. . .
Dukes v. Wal Mart & Unconscious Bias
While the world awaits the Supreme Court Ruling on the world’s largest class action lawsuit, Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc, there looms another potential employer liability when it comes to employees in the workplace, social media and social media discrimination.
On March 29th of this year, the Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments for the largest sex-discrimination case in history. Seven women claimed that they were looked over for promotions and large raises while their male counterparts received them.
Now just imagine if these seven women had glowing references from these same supervisors using LinkedIn and comments on their Facebook and Flickr photos saying things like, “I’m so happy to hear about your pregnancy” or supervisors simply liking their employees’ photos. It’s things like this that provide evidence that employers were aware of certain lifestyle and family decisions helping to drive their employment decisions unconsciously.
Online Unconscious Bias
As social media becomes the communication method of choice, companies should be concerned about the potential liabilities from online unconscious bias. In 2007, the EEOC began focusing their efforts on unconscious bias. Unconscious bias is the concept that individuals can have a bias at an unconscious level that influences decision-making in ways that the individual is unaware. Essentially employers and hiring managers demonstrate and are unaware of behaviors that are bias against a protected class. Unconscious bias is also the foundation of the Dukes V Wal-Mart class action lawsuit.
Some of these experts believe these unconscious biases are extremely pervasive based on their studies. Over 80% of their respondents showed “implicit negativity toward the elderly compared to the young; 75-80% of self-identified Whites and Asians show an implicit preference for racial White relative to Black.”