Tag Archives: Facebook

Has Bozeman, Montana Gone To Far? Requiring Access to Social Network Sites Can Open up a Pandora's Box of Legal Issues

According to a story published online by the Christian Science Monitor, the City of Bozeman, Montana has “requested that candidates provide their username and passwords for social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. The application asks that candidates “list any and all current personal or business Web sites, web pages, or memberships on any Internet-based chat rooms, social clubs, or forums, to include, but not limited to: Facebook, Google, Yahoo, YouTube.com, MySpace, etc.” http://features.csmonitor.com/innovation/2009/06/19/montana-job-seekers-asked-for-facebook-myspace-logins/#comment-10827.

Although this is an evolving area of law, the City needs to tread very carefully in this area.  First and foremost, they are opening themselves up to discrimination claims if the social network site reveals an applicant’s membership in a protected group, such as race, nationality, ethnicity, religious afflation, marital status, physical condition, etc. This is especially an issue when asking for this information in the application stage where there can be an inference that such factors were used illegally to screen out candidates on the basis of their membership in a protected class. Even assuming that a review of such sites may be relevant to the job, it is best done later in the hiring process, so applicants can be assured they were considered fairly, before the City goes looking at private sites. The City should also formulate clear policies and procedures to ensure they are looking for factors that are valid predictors of job performance.  

There are a number of other issues as well to consider. For an examination of some of the reasons the use of social network site can be dangerous, see the following ESR article:  http://www.esrcheck.com/articles/Caution-Using-Search-Engines-MySpace-or-Facebook-for-Hiring-Decisions-May-Be-Hazardous-to-Your-Business.php.

Update:  According to the latest news information, the City of Boozeman has dropped this requirement due to negative reactions. However, this blog post will remain since this is an ongoing issue. 

 

Security Management Magazine by ASIS features article on Employment Screening Background Checks by ESR President Lester Rosen

 Security Management, the publication of ASIS, the leading international security organization, featured an article on Background Checks by Lester Rosen, President of Employment Screening Resources (ESR) in the May, 2009 edition.

The article is entitled: “How to Avoid Hiring Mishaps,” and covers recent cases, trends, new developments and best practices when it comes to pre-employment background screening checks.  Areas covered include the proper use of criminal databases, criminal records and discrimination under Title VII, the use of credit reports, new laws in New York on the employer’s use of criminal information, education verification and the use of social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace.

The article is at: http://www.securitymanagement.com/article/how-avoid-hiring-mishaps-005529 

ASIS also reviewed the newest book by Les Rosen, “The Safe Hiring Audit.”