As businesses scan the social media profiles of both prospective and current employees, companies are increasingly turning to partnerships with screening providers to avoid undesirable associations and mitigate headline risk. Leveraging a third party with expertise in comprehensively scanning profiles can not only help businesses identify red flags, but it can also reveal employees divulging sensitive company information. Moreover, turning the responsibility over to a third party helps ensure employers avoid breach of privacy and discrimination claims that may arise if prospective applicants discover that employers visited their social media profiles prior to making a decision on their candidacies. In recent days, Major League Baseball (MLB) has dealt with controversy as discriminatory social media posts from several prominent players surfaced.
During the 2018 MLB All-Star Game, several tweets from Milwaukee Brewers star reliever Josh Hader came to light while he pitched in front of a national audience. Several Twitter users reportedly found and started retweeting messages Hader had sent as a 17-year old. His messages included homophobic, misogynistic, and racist content. The MLB quickly ordered Hader to undergo sensitivity training. “There’s no excuse for what was said… I’m deeply sorry for what I’ve said and what’s been going on. That doesn’t reflect any of my beliefs now,” said Hader. When asked why he never deleted the tweets, Hader responded “No deletes… obviously, when you’re a kid, you just tweet what’s on your mind.” The incident proved to be an ugly episode during one of the sport’s marquee events.
On July 29th, Sean Newcomb, a starting pitcher for the Atlanta Braves, apologized for offensive tweets discovered while he nearly pitched a no-hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The messages, sent when Newcomb was a senior in high school, involved racist and homophobic content. Newcomb apologized, and the Braves quickly issued a statement acknowledging the hurtful and disappointing news. Similar to Hader, Newcomb mentioned he had forgotten about the tweets from his past. In addition, the MLB made an appointment for Newcomb to have a conversation with Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane, the league’s vice president for social responsibility and inclusion.
Two days later, Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner issued an apology for recently discovered tweets from his past with homophobic and racist messages. Turner apologized for offending the African-American, LGBT, and special needs communities, and acknowledged that he should not have said the comments at all, which, similar to Hader and Newcomb, where sent when he was a teenager. “I think a lot of times it’s a tough thing to grapple with having something you said as a 17- or 18-year-old come back to haunt you a little bit later in life, and I think sometimes when you’re that age, you might know those things are wrong to say but maybe you don’t know anybody that’s been personally affected by them. It’s tough for you to really understand the damage, the real damage that they can and do cause,” said Turner. Turner’s teammate, reliever Sean Doolittle, responded “it’s not like you can accidentally post a slur,” and suggested that players delete posts that no longer represent who they are.
At Vcheck Global, we routinely encounter evidence of discriminatory behaviors and tendencies in social media conduct. Discovering red flags such as discriminatory, illegal, sexual, or violent conduct can help businesses avoid unsuitable hires and identify alarming behavior from their own employees. As these athletes have recently demonstrated, many tend to forget hurtful comments they have made in the past.