Lawsuits for use of Social Networking Sites for background Checks

By Les Rosen, Employment Screening Resources

2010 Trends in Screening — Trend Five:  Lawsuits for Use of Social Networking Sites for Background Checks

In past posts, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) has labeled the use of the internet and social networking sites as a hot topic.  In 2010 and onwards, it appears very likely that litigation over the use of these sites will be the hot topic.

One big issue of course is discrimination.  Applicants can bring a “failure to hire” lawsuit if the employer utilized information from a social networking site about their race, ethnicity, nationality, martial status, religious preference, age, etc.  Another issue yet to be decided is privacy. Even though the information is on the internet, strong arguments can be made that consumers have a reasonable expectation of privacy on websites where only friends are supposed to visit and the terms of use prohibit commercial exploitation. In addition, employers need to be careful about the use of legal off-duty conduct.  There are also issues as to authenticity and whether a site really refers to or belongs to an applicant.  Recruiters are also not immune from potential liability just because they are searching for “passive” candidates who may not know they are the victims of discrimination. 

As ESR has described in past articles, discrimination rules apply equally to recruiters.  And firms that use social network sites in a discriminatory fashion could find themselves in hot water if a recruiter spills the beans, or the recruiting practices results in a workforce that is statistically imbalanced. See:  http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/775/the-rush-to-source-candidates-from-internet-and-social-networking-sites-2

Stay tuned to the ESR blog for updated information.

(Employment Screening Resources (ESR), a leading national online employment screening background firm, is releasing the “Third Annual Top Ten Trends in the Pre-Employment Background Screening Industry” for 2010. This is the FIFTH of the ten trends ESR will be tracking in 2010.)