More and more employers are using
the Internet to gather information about job applicants. Indeed,
the use of online social networking websites such as MySpace, Facebook,
LinkedIn, and others has expanded beyond college campuses. Many
professionals maintain such websites to broaden their personal
and professional networking.
Paul J. Siegel, Esq. and
Ana C. Shields, Esq.
Jackson Lewis LLP
Jackson Lewis LLP recently conducted a survey of employers in
the New York metropolitan areas (Nassau, Queens, Suffolk, Riverhead,
and White Plains) to determine how online social networking sites
have affected the employer-employee relationship. It revealed that
some employers use these sites as an informative recruiting and
screening tool. Twelve percent reported use of online social networking
sites to recruit new employees. An equal percentage admitted to
using online social networking sites to assess applicants before
extending a job offer. Two percent reported rejecting applicants
based on information learned from an applicant's online profile.
Even after a job offer is made, online social networking may
impact employment. Two percent of survey respondents have terminated
applicants based on information learned from an applicant's online
Before taking an adverse personnel action, an employer should
be certain that review of online resources and taking that adverse
action are lawful, i.e., is it lawful or advisable to use "Google,"
Facebook, or other Internet resources to gather information on job
applicants. The bottom line is: there's no federal law expressly
prohibiting it, and only a few states arguably do not allow it.
Below is a summary of some of the advantages and disadvantages
of using these sources in personnel matters.
Based on the foregoing, an Internet search of applicants may
be more trouble than it's worth. However, we would not necessarily
counsel against searches if done properly. Specifically, if such
searches are done, similarly situated applicants must be treated
the same. In other words, employers should "Google" all applicants
for a position (or none). As part of that process, the company should
alert candidates that searches will be conducted.
Ana C. Shields is a senior associate
in the Long Island office of Jackson Lewis. Since joining Jackson
Lewis, Ms. Shields has practiced exclusively in the area of employment
litigation and has been involved in proceedings before federal and
state courts, the American Arbitration Association, and administrative
agencies. She has advised employers on compliance with various state
and federal laws affecting the workplace. Ms. Shields can be reached
results and other information regarding preventive strategies and
positive solutions in the practice of workplace law are available
at the firm's website,
www.jacksonlewis.com or by contacting Paul J. Siegel, Esq. or
Ana C. Shields, Esq., at 631-247-0404 or at
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