To help individuals enjoy effective control over their personal information, an extensive January 2012 proposal by the European Commission for a new General Data Protection Regulation aims to strengthen and bring into harmony data protection law across Europe. A Communication from the Commission, ‘Safeguarding Privacy in a Connected World – A European Data Protection Framework for the 21st Century,’ is at: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2012:0009:FIN:EN:PDF. Continue reading
A new California law due to take effect January 1, 2012 – Senate Bill 909 (SB 909) – appears to be one of the first in the nation that addresses the growing concerns over the controversial practice of “offshoring” personally identifiable information (PII) collected during background checks of job applicants by sending the data outside of United States and its territories and beyond the protection of U.S. privacy and identity theft laws. This is Trend Number 9 of the fifth annual Employment Screening Resources (ESR) ‘Top 10 Trends in Background Checks’ for 2012. To view the list of trends, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/ESR-Top-10-Trends-in-Background-Checks-for-2012.php. Continue reading
According to a news release on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website, social network service Facebook has agreed to settle FTC charges of failing to keep promises of privacy after the company “deceived consumers by telling them they could keep their information on Facebook private and then repeatedly allowing it to be shared and made public.” The FTC’s eight-count complaint against Facebook – part of the agency’s ongoing effort to ensure companies live up to the privacy promises they make to American consumers – charged that the claims that Facebook made “were unfair and deceptive and thus violated federal law.” Continue reading
To better protect the Social Security numbers (SSNs) of deceased Americans from identity theft, the “Keeping IDs Safe Act” was recently introduced in the U.S. House by Representative Sam Johnson (R-Texas), according to a press release on Johnson’s website. Also known as the “KIDS Act,” the legislature would make it harder for identity thieves to steal SSNs of deceased children and others by limiting access to the Death Master File publicly released by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Continue reading
Attorney at Law and safe hiring expert Lester Rosen, Founder and CEO of background check firm Employment Screening Resources (ESR), will present an audio conference titled ‘Web 2.0 Caution! The Legal Line You Walk When Using Social Media and Search Engines to Recruit and Screen Applicants’ on October 26, 2011 from 1:30 PM to 3:00 PM Eastern Time. For more information or to sign up, visit the Workplace Training Center website at: http://www.workplacetrainingcenter.com/Prod-2757.aspx. Continue reading
Concerned that social media background checks may invade the privacy of consumers and raise legal issues, Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) and Al Franken (D-Minnesota) have sent a letter requesting information to an employment screening firm, Social Intelligence Corp., that locates, reviews, and stores data from the “Web and social media footprints” of consumers for up to seven years to give employers information about job applicants, according to a press release ‘Blumenthal, Franken Call on Social Intelligence Corp to Clarify Privacy Practices’ on Senator Blumenthal’s website.
Attorney and background screening expert Les Rosen, founder and President of accredited background check firm Employment Screening Resources (ESR), will discuss social media background checks in a session titled ‘Caution Advised! The Use of Social Networking Sites, Search Engines and Web 2.0 to Screen Applicants’ at the 2011 ASIS International 57th Annual Seminar and Exhibits. The session will take place on Tuesday, September 20, 2011 from 1:45 PM to 3:00 PM (EST) in Room W304E in Room W304E at the Orange County Convention Center, 9800 International Drive, in Orlando, Florida. To register for the 2011 ASIS International event, visit http://www.asis2011.org/. Continue reading
Adding to the debate over whether globalization negatively affects the U.S. economy, new data from the U.S. Commerce Department shows that multinational corporations in the United States – familiar big brand-name companies which employ nearly 20 percent of all American workers – reduced their domestic workforce by 2.9 million jobs during the last decade while at the same time increasing their overseas workforce by 2.4 million jobs, the Wall Street Journal reports in the article ‘Big U.S. Firms Shift Hiring Abroad.’ Continue reading
Just in time for Saint Valentine’s Day, new technology such as online dating background checks can supposedly help users find out the answer to the question above in mere seconds and with little effort or cost. However, while these new online dating background check services appear extremely fast and easy to use, the information provided by them may not be wholly accurate or complete. Continue reading
By Thomas Ahearn, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) News Editor
A recent article on the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) website – ‘Employers Tread a Minefield’ – warns employers about “tripping over legal potholes in social media” if they choose to fire people over alleged social media infractions as more employees and job applicants access popular social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
While job seekers and employees have been warned that what they post on popular social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter during their private time could come back to haunt their public careers, employers are now increasingly facing questions about their own policies regarding social media usage that outlines what is, and what is not, appropriate.
Due to the fact that these social network sites are a virtual treasure trove of personal information about employees and job applicants, the WSJ article cautions employers about the potential for litigation over social media use of employees, citing several legal cases as examples.
- A National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) judge – in the federal agency’s first ‘social media complaint’ – will soon consider whether a medical transportation company illegally fired a worker in Connecticut after she criticized her boss on Facebook (UPDATE: Connecticut Facebook Firing Settlement Talks in Works).
- Workers in New Jersey sued a restaurant company when they were dismissed after managers accessed a private Myspace page the employees set up to chat about work.
- A Silicon Valley company was sued twice for comments an anonymous blogger (who was also an attorney for the company at the time) made about two lawyers and their patent-infringement suit against the company.
- A former Georgia high school teacher has sued the local school district claiming that she was forced to resign her position over photos on Facebook that showed her drinking alcohol during a vacation in Europe.
While information about job applicants and employees found on social media may seem tempting to employers, viewing such information could lead to issues of discrimination, privacy, and authenticity and accuracy if a person is a victim of “cyber slamming.”
Yet, despite these dangers, employers seem intent on using social media for screening. A 2009 survey of more than 2,600 hiring managers conducted by leading job networking site CareerBuilder.com found nearly half of employers – 45 percent – used social networking sites to research candidates. The survey also revealed that 35 percent of employers rejected job applicants based on what was uncovered on social networking sites. Of these 35 percent:
- 53 percent cited provocative/inappropriate photographs or information.
- 44 percent cited content about drinking or using drugs.
- 35 percent cited bad-mouthing of previous employers, co-workers or clients.
- 29 percent cited poor communication skills.
- 26 percent cited discriminatory comments.
- 24 percent cited misrepresentation of qualifications.
- 20 percent cited sharing confidential information from a previous employer.
Experts quoted in the WSJ article say the best defense against legal action for employers is to establish a social media policy and train employees about the policy, something that experts estimate that fewer than half of U.S. companies have done. In the meantime, the amount of legal action resulting from employer missteps in social media is likely to rise.
The issue of using social network sites such as Facebook to screen job candidates increasing the legal risk for employers was the Number 6 Background Screening Trend for 2011 for 2011. For a complete list of the Employment Screening Resources (ESR) Fourth Annual ‘Top Ten Trends in Background Screening’ for 2011, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/Top-Ten-Trends-In-Background-Screening-2011.php.
In addition, Lester Rosen, safe hiring expert and founder and President of Employment Screening Resources (ESR), a background check company accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), recently participated in a podcast on BackInfoSecurity.com, ‘Background Checks: Beware Social Media,’ and talked about how employers use, and sometimes abuse, social media for background checks. For more information, visit http://www.bankinfosecurity.com/podcasts.php?podcastID=951.
Founded in 1996 in the San Francisco area, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by ESR founder and President Lester Rosen and is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) . To learn more about Employment Screening Resources, visit http://www.ESRcheck.com or contact Jared Callahan, ESR Director of Client Relations, at 415.898.0044 or jcallahan@ESRcheck.com.