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Net caution for job-seekers

Natasha Beckles

Net caution for job-seekers

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BE CAREFUL what you post on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
You could be putting your current job in jeopardy or reducing your chances of being hired.
However, questions have also been raised as to whether an employer would be guilty of discrimination if he refused to hire an individual because of piercings, tattoos or photos on social media.
Cave Shepherd’s customer service and corporate communications manager Mark Anthony Thornhill brought up these issues yesterday during the final session of the Barbados Association of Office Professionals’ annual conference at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
He was participating in a panel discussion on Equal Opportunities in the Workplace.
“Tell me if we are to hire you because you are qualified on paper, but on Facebook you are using expletives that we certainly won’t have you using in our environment?” Thornhill asked.
“You are posting [pictures] where you are on the Jolly Roger wukking up like a skeet and we are asking you then to come and serve someone . . .  who is of a mature age.”
Thornhill queried whether such an individual would be justified in arguing that his rights were being trampled upon if he was not hired.
Fellow panellist Senator Kerry-Ann Ifill suggested that not just social media, but traditional media could affect an individual’s employment situation.
She related a situation where a young woman admitted on radio that she had left work in the middle of the day to search for the Digicel fugitive.
“It is not private what you put on Facebook and yes, it does impact on your employment when you do certain things,” she stressed.
Meanwhile, attorney Andrew Pilgrim said employers should be encouraged to focus on character, qualification and ability instead of tattoos, piercings and wukking up.
He pointed out that Barbados’ legal framework was not specifically geared towards protecting the rights of professionals from discrimination in the workplace.
“It may be that that is the next step and I think we need to be ready for that,” he said.
Pilgrim said more attention had to be paid to gender discrimination.
“I feel that we have not challenged our court system enough in terms of the rights of women. I think there’s a big future for it and I long for the time when our recruitment processes, our hiring and firing process are informed by the fact that women acknowledge that they have certain rights, the most fundamental of which is not to be discriminated against on the basis of their gender,” he said.