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Screening Applicants Using Social Networking Sites: Legal or Liablity


March 23, 2010



Job applicants have long used the internet to research employers. But now, employers are using the internet to research job applicants as well. Employers aren't only using search engines to find information on applicants but are now examining social networking sites, such as Facebook® or MySpace®. For job applicants, social networking site are places to interact with peers in any manner they choose. Entries on these sites are typically not meant for employers to view. Employers tell anecdotes of avoiding serious mistakes by using these tools. Conversely, some job applicants feel they have been denied opportunities unfairly by employers or recruiters snooping on social websites, and viewing materials out of context or web entries meant just in fun for friends. This teleconference will review this emerging area of employment law, examining the pros and cons of employers utilizing such tools and the legal landscape. Topics will cover how and why employers and recruiters utilize these sites. It will then cover a number of legal implications, such as problems with employers obtaining information they should not have and privacy issues. Finally, we will examine approaches that employers, recruiters and applicants may consider.



FACEBOOK is a registered trademark of Facebook, Inc. and this event is not sponsored by or affiliated with Facebook.


MYSPACE is a registered trademark of MySpace, Inc. and this event is not sponsored by or affiliated with MySpace.


  Overview: Why the Sudden Interest by Recruiters and Employers in Using Social Networking Sites?
  • Potential Online Tools for Employers - Search Engines, Social Network Sites, Blogs and Chat Rooms
  • What Employers May Find Online and How
  The Legal Landscape
  • The Use of Private Behavior for Employment Decisions
  • The TMI Problem - Too Much Information?
  • Privacy in the Brave New Online World - Is Everything on the Web Fair Game?
  • What Is Real? Issues Concerning Identity and Authenticity
  • What Happened to Free Speech?
  Where to Go From Here
  • Approaches for Employers
  • Approaches for Job Applicants
  • Approaches for Online Sites and College Placement Offices
  • Using the Web to Investigate Current Employees - A New Legal Minefield


Lester S. Rosen, Esq., Employment Screening Resources

Lester S. Rosen, Esq.

  • Attorney-at-law and founder of Employment Screening Resources (, a national background screening company headquartered in Novato, California
  • Nationally recognized consultant, writer and speaker on the Fair Credit Reporting Act, pre-employment screening and safe hiring issues
  • Author of “The Safe Hiring Manual - Complete Guide to Keeping Criminals, Imposters and Terrorists Out of Your Workplace” (Facts on Demand Press), the first comprehensive book on employment screening
  • Qualified and testified in the California, Florida and Arkansas Superior Courts as an expert witness on issues surrounding safe hiring and due diligence
  • Speaking appearances have included numerous national and statewide conferences
  • Former deputy district attorney and criminal defense attorney, and his jury trials have included murder, death penalty and federal cases
  • Graduate, Phi Beta Kappa, University of California, Los Angeles
  • J.D. degree, University of California, Davis, serving on the law review
  • Licensed private investigator in California
  • In 2002, he worked with the California Legislature to amend A.B. 655, a law that affected employers in the area of reference checks and hiring in California, and testified on amendments to the law before the California State Legislature
  • Chairperson of the steering committee that founded the National Association of Professional Background Screeners, a professional trade organization for the screening industry, having more than 500 members where he was elected to the first board of directors and served as the first co-chairman in 2004
  • Contact him at 415-898-0044 or

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