Tag Archives: Twitter

California Social Media Privacy Act Prohibiting Employers from Asking Employees and Applicants for Passwords Approved in Senate

The California Senate Committee on Education has approved legislation – ‘The Social Media Privacy Act’ Senate Bill 1349 (SB 1349) – that would prohibit employers from formally requesting or demanding employees or job applicants provide their usernames and passwords to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Authored by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo), SB 1349 would also prohibit public and private colleges and universities from requiring similar information from students. The full text of ‘The Social Media Privacy Act’ (SB 1349) is available at: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/sen/sb_1301-1350/sb_1349_bill_20120327_amended_sen_v98.html. Continue reading

Facebook Warns Employers Asking Job Applicants for Social Media Passwords May Expose Businesses to Legal Liability

Responding to an increase in reports of employers seeking to gain “inappropriate access” to social network profiles of job applicants, online social media giant Facebook issued a warning to employers in a recent blog posted on the company website – ‘Protecting Your Passwords and Your Privacy’ – that the practice of asking job applicants for their social media passwords “undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user’s friends” and could potentially expose businesses to “unanticipated legal liability.” The blog is available at: http://www.facebook.com/notes/facebook-and-privacy/protecting-your-passwords-and-your-privacy/326598317390057. Continue reading

Social Media Background Screening Checks of Job Applicants Becoming More Prevalent and More Controversial

Employers and recruiters have discovered a treasure trove of information about potential job applicants on social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, and so-called ‘social media background checks’ are becoming more popular and prevalent than ever. However, the use of social media background checks for job applicants has become controversial and can present legal risks. Failure to utilize social media resources can arguably be the basis of a negligent hiring claim if an unfit person was hired for a position where a search of the internet may have raised a “red flag.” Conversely, employers face numerous landmines and pitfalls that can include that include privacy, discrimination, and accuracy issues. Lawsuits and developments in this area will likely be an ongoing topic in 2012.  This is Trend Number 3 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

Social Media Screening Webinar Helps Employers and Recruiters Avoid Legal Landmines when Using Internet for Background Checks

Employers and recruiters have discovered a treasure trove of information about potential job applicants on social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. However, the use of these sites can present legal risks, including privacy and discrimination issues, according to safe hiring expert Les Rosen, CEO of Employment Screening Resources (ESR), who will present the 90 minute webinar ‘Avoiding Legal Landmines when Using Facebook, LinkedIn & Other Social Media Websites for Screening Candidates’ on Monday, December 12, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. ET / 11:00 a.m. PT. To learn more or to register, visit http://www.thompsoninteractive.com/site/offer.jsp?promo=00125651&priority=00295701745. Continue reading

ACLU Calls Background Checks Asking for Social Network Passwords of Job Applicants Illegal Invasion of Privacy

Should employers be allowed to ask job applicants for the logins and passwords to their social network site profiles such as Facebook as part of employment background checks? The answer to this question may involve the next frontier of online privacy, suggests the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), after the Maryland Department of Corrections (DOC) asked a job candidate for his Facebook login information as part of a background check. Continue reading

Employers Firing Employees over Information Found on Popular Social Media Sites Face Legal Risks

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.

Source:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703954004576089850685724570.html
http://thehiringsite.careerbuilder.com/2009/08/20/nearly-half-of-employers-use-social-networking-sites-to-screen-job-candidates/

ESR Background Screening Trend 6 for 2011: Using Social Network Sites Such as Facebook to Screen Job Candidates Increases Legal Risk for Employers

By Lester Rosen, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) President & Thomas Ahearn, ESR News Editor

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) Fourth Annual ‘Top Ten Trends in Pre-Employment Background Screening’ for 2011

Trend No. 6: Using Social Network Sites Such as Facebook to Screen Job Candidates Increases Legal Risk for Employers

A background screening trend that recently emerged where employers used social network sites such as Facebook – the most popular social networking site with over 500 million active users worldwide – to run ‘Social Network Background Checks’ on job candidates should become even more prevalent in 2011, and increase the legal risks for employers.

No discussion about background screening these days is complete without an analysis of how the Internet is used for hiring. From social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter to blogs, videos on YouTube, and business connection sites like LinkedIn, employers focus with laser-like intensity on how to use the Internet for background screening job candidates. What is sometimes overlooked in the rush to use the Internet for background screening is the one question employers need to ask: What are the legal risks in using the Internet for hiring?

The answer involves issues of discrimination, authenticity, and privacy. If employers insist on using social network sites for background screening, then they must realize that much of the ‘new media’ available to them for background screening is still covered by current employment regulations.

“Employers and recruiters have discovered a treasure trove of information on potential job applicants in social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other online sources,” says Lester Rosen, founder of Employment Screening Resources (ESR) and author of The Safe Hiring Manual – The Complete Guide to Keeping Criminals, Imposters, and Terrorists Out of Your Workplace,’ the first comprehensive book on employment screening. “However, the use of these sites can present legal risks, including privacy and discrimination issues.”

Employers care about the content on social networking sites used by job candidates. A 2009 survey from leading job networking site CareerBuilder.com that found nearly half of employers use social networking sites to screen job candidates, more than double the amount from 2008. The survey of more than 2,600 hiring managers revealed that 45 percent of employers used social networking sites to research candidates and 35 percent of employers rejected 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. 

Allegations of discrimination are one critical area where employers can find themselves in hot water when utilizing social network sites for background screening. Employers may be accused of disregarding candidates who are members of protected classes by passing over the online profiles of people based on prohibited criteria such as race, creed, color, nationality, sex, religious affiliation, marital status, or medical condition. There may even be photos showing a physical condition protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or showing candidates wearing garb suggesting their religious affiliation or national origin. This issue is sometimes referred to as Too Much Information (TMI). Once employers are aware that an individual is a member of a protected group, it is difficult to claim that they can “un-ring the bell” and forget they saw such information.

Another issue facing employers using the Internet to source is authenticity. In other words, if negative information about a candidate is found on the Internet or a social networking site, how is the employer supposed to verify that the information is accurate, up-to-date, authentic, and if it even belongs to or applies to the candidate in question?

Another problem concerning Internet sourcing and screening yet to be fully explored by the courts is the issue of privacy. Contrary to popular opinion, everything online is not necessarily fair game. Certainly, people choosing not to adjust their privacy settings so that their social network sites are easily available on Internet searches may have a more difficult time arguing that there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. However, the terms of use for many social network sites prohibit commercial use and many users literally believe that their social network site is exactly that – a place to freely socialize. The argument would be that in their circles it is the community norm, and a generally accepted attitude, that their pages are off limits to unwelcome intruders, even if the door is left wide open. After all, burglars can hardly defend themselves on the basis that the front door to the house they stole from was unlocked so they felt they could just walk in.
 
Yet another issue is legal off-duty conduct.  A number of states protect workers engaged in legal off-duty conduct. If such a search reveals legal off duty conduct, a candidate can claim they were the victims of illegal discrimination 
 
All of these concerns are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to social network background checks.  Employers need to be very careful when it comes to harvesting information about job candidates from the internet.  Employers need to know how to protect themselves against allegations of discrimination and issues with authenticity and privacy if no further action is taken after the discovery on the Internet that a person is a member of a protected class or when finding negative information.  How and when an employer obtains such information is critical.

For employers wanting to use social network sites to screen a candidate, the safest path when using the Internet is to obtain consent from the candidate first and only search once there has been a conditional job offer to that candidate. This procedure helps ensure that impermissible information is not considered before the employer evaluates a candidate using permissible tools such as interviews, job-related employment tests, references from supervisors, and a background check.

At that point, after using permissible screening tools, the reason for employers to search social networking sites would be to ensure that there is nothing that would eliminate the person for employment, such as saying nasty things about the employer’s firm, or if the applicant engaged in behavior that would damage the company, hurt business interests, or be inconsistent with business needs.

In addition, employers in the sourcing stage may want to consider having a clear internal policy and documented training that Internet sourcing is not being used in violation of federal and state discrimination laws and that only factors that are valid predictors of job performance will be considered, taking into account the job description, and the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for the position. It also helps to have objective and documented methods and metrics on how to source and screen on the Internet.

Another method employers may use is to have a person in-house not connected to any hiring decisions review social network sites, in order to ensure impermissible background screening information is not given to the decisions maker. The in-house background screening should also have training in the non-discriminatory use of background screening information, knowledge of the job desiccation and use objective methods that are the same for all candidates for each type of position.  That way, only permissible information is transmitted to the person that is making the decision.  Again, this is best done post-offer but pre-hire and with consent. An employer may be looking for online information concerning upon job suitability.  For example, did the potential employee say derogatory things about past employers or co-workers, or demonstrate that they are not the best candidate for the job. 

Although employers may request that background screening firms perform this function, there are a number of drawbacks. First, a background screening firm does not have the same in-depth knowledge the employer has of the details of the position.  In addition, if a social network background check is done by a background screening firm, the search falls under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) which requires a background screening firm to maintain reasonable procedures for maximum possible accuracy.  Because a background screening firm has no way of knowing if the online information is accurate, it is difficult for background screening firms to perform this service consistent with the FCRA.  In other words, due to the FCRA, background screening firms may not be best suited to perform these types of ‘social network background check’ searches.

On the other hand, failure to utilize these social networking sites when a search could have revealed relevant information could expose an employer to claims of negligent hiring. 

The bottom line is that employers must approach using social network background screening with caution before assuming everything is fair game in the pursuit of job candidates or otherwise face potential legal landmines that could destroy their business.

To read more ESR News articles about using social network sites for screening, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/tag/social-networking-sites/.  Learn more about Employment Screening Resources (ESR) at http://www.ESRcheck.com.

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – a leading provider of background checks accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) – is releasing the ESR Fourth Annual ‘Top Ten Trends in Pre-Employment Background Screening’ for 2011 throughout December. This is the Sixth of the Top Ten Trends ESR will be tracking in 2011. To see an updated list of ESR’s ‘Top Ten Trends in Pre-Employment Background Screening’ for 2011, visit: http://www.esrcheck.com/Top-Ten-Trends-In-Background-Screening-2011.php.

Founded in 1996 in the San Francisco Bay area, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is the company that wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by ESR founder and President Lester Rosen. Employment Screening Resources is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC) for proving compliance with the Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP). ESR was the third U.S. background check firm to be Safe Harbor’ Certified for data privacy protection. To learn more, visit http://www.ESRcheck.com or contact Jared Callahan, ESR Director of Client Relations, at 415.898.0044 or jcallahan@ESRcheck.com.

Some Employers Rejecting Job Applicants Outright Because of Online Images Found in Social Networking Background Checks

By Thomas Ahearn, ESR News Blog Writer

Could what job applicants post on social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter affect their chances of finding employment?

A recent story on HuffingingtonPost.com – Rejected Outright for the Job Because of Their Online Image – details how a business strategist was helping a client with some key hires by searching for and identifying potential candidates on the business social network LinkedIn. The strategist’s client then “Googled” – i.e. checked on popular search engine giant Google.com – each candidate’s name on the short list to do a quick online background check.

According to the story, the job candidates were split into two categories, those people with a “positive web presence” and those people without one. Those with positive presences were interviewed for jobs while the others were rejected outright because of content they had on other social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, or blogs they may have written.  As a result, the business strategist suggests job applicants look at their “personal brand” online to “make sure it matches who they are and how they want to be perceived.”

However, employers who conduct “social networking background checks” on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter should also be aware that doing so could possibly lead to problems, according to safe hiring expert, Lester Rosen, founder of San Francisco-area based Employment Screening Resources (ESR).

“Employers and recruiters have discovered a treasure trove of information on potential job applicants in social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other online sources,” says Rosen, author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual – The Complete Guide to Keeping Criminals, Imposters, and Terrorists Out of Your Workplace,” the first comprehensive book on employment screening. “However, the use of these sites can present legal risks, including privacy and discrimination issues.”

To help educate employers on the potential legal risks of “social networking background checks,” Rosen will present an online webinar – “Legal Risks of Social Network Sites and Employee Screening” – with the Northern California HR Association (NCHRA) on Friday, September 10, 2010 from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm Pacific Time. The webinar is free to NCHRA members. To register, visit http://www.nchra.org/scriptcontent/custom/e-index.cfm?PAGE=WB100111.htm&ion=events.

For more information on “all things background checks,” visit http://www.ESRcheck.com.

Source:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/fred-whelan-and-gladys-stone/rejected-outright-for-the_b_700856.html

Background Check Expert Lester Rosen Presents Webinar on How Social Media Use During Employment Screening Can Trigger Privacy Lawsuits

By Les Rosen, Employment Screening Resources

Lester Rosen, President of Employment Screening Resources (ESR), a leading international employment screening background check firm headquartered in the San Francisco area, will present a national webinar for a leading business information site on employment screening on Thursday, April 22, 2010 at 2:00 PM EST / 11:00 AM PST.

The webinar – How Social Media and Traditional Background Checks Trigger Privacy Lawsuits – is being presented by Business 21 Publishing, which provides multi-media corporate learning and employee training products. Participants in this 60-minute webinar will learn best practices to help screen employees thoroughly without violating the law.

In the webinar, Rosen – a nationally recognized expert on employment screening background checks – will address such topics as:

  • The pros and cons of using social media internet sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter and how privacy and discrimination laws apply.
  • What employers should do when they discover that a job candidate has a criminal record, a bad credit report or some other red flag.
  • The Title VII implications of background checks and credit reports.
  • The legal requirements under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and how state to state privacy laws also apply.
  • The legal risks associated with “one button” automated background check systems.
  • What applicants need to sign before and after the background check is complete.
  • How employers should deal with independent contractors or temporary workers.
  • Considerations when conducting International background checks.

“Hiring safe, qualified, and honest employees is mission critical for any business, and I am pleased to have the opportunity to help employers avoid the risks of a bad hire,” commented Rosen. “Recruiters and hiring managers also need to understand the potential liabilities that employers can face if employment screening is done incorrectly or unfairly as well.”

Mr. Rosen, who is also an attorney, is a writer and speaker on the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), pre-employment screening, and safe hiring issues. In addition, he is the author of the first comprehensive book on employment screening – “The Safe Hiring Manual: The Complete Guide to Keeping Criminals, Imposters, and Terrorists Out of Your Workplace” – and also wrote an additional guide on the subject called “The Safe Hiring Audit.”

Mr. Rosen’s speaking appearances have included numerous national and statewide conferences. He has testified in the California, Florida, and Arkansas Superior Court as an expert witness on issues surrounding safe hiring and due diligence. Mr. Rosen was also the chairperson of the steering committee that founded the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), the professional trade organization for the screening industry, and served as the first co-chairman in 2004.

For more information about the webinar How Social Media and Traditional Background Checks Trigger Privacy Lawsuits, please visit: http://www.b21pubs.com/p-892-how-social-media-and-traditional-background-checks-trigger-privacy-lawsuits.aspx. More information about Employment Screening Resources (ESR) can be found at www.ESRcheck.com.

Source: http://www.b21pubs.com/p-892-how-social-media-and-traditional-background-checks-trigger-privacy-lawsuits.aspx

Social Media Policy Tips

Guest blog:  ESR invites partners to provide guest blogs.
The following is an articles on Social Medial Policy Tips: 

As Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and other such sites become more ingrained in our daily lives and habits, employers are scrambling to incorporate guidelines for responsible social media use into company policy manuals. But do all employers need a social media policy? Probably.

Your employees are already tweeting and posting comments, pictures and video. It’s up to you to outline how (or if) you want them to reference your company in such settings. Understanding that you may want to give employees some flexibility to use social media, you should at least consider some guidelines that protect your company.

Here are some dos and dont’s employers should consider when thinking about establishing social media policy.

DO:

DO: Create a social media policy that fits with your industry, philosophy and needs. Determine if your company can benefit from using social media outlets to communicate internally and with customers and/or vendors. Also consider the possible scenarios that could cause harm or damage to your company, customers and employees. This could include employees posting comments that may disparage your company reputation and/or posting negative comments about customers or clients.

DO: Make employees aware that they may be liable for content and information they post on blogs, social media sites and email. Let them know that their postings on public media sites may be monitored by the company and used as grounds for termination if it causes harm to the company, other employees and/or customers or vendors.

DO: Clearly communicate your social media policy to your employees. Include it in your new hire orientation, your employee handbook and, if applicable, your intranet and/or company blog. Have employees sign an “acknowledgement” that they read and received a copy of the policy. Ensure existing employees understand your policy in relation to proprietary and private information. Refer back to your existing confidentiality policy.

DO: Communicate how much time and when employees can access social media with company property or on their personal property during work hours. If you have a more flexible work environment, provide general guidelines (i.e. use the Internet within a reasonable amount of time without it affecting your work). Some companies may want to limit such activity to breaks (or not at all).

DON’T:

DON’T: Make subordinates feel uncomfortable with “friend requests.” Balance this issue carefully to determine how much you want to mix your personal social media information with your business. For example, don’t make employees feel coerced into accepting their boss as a “friend” or “follower.” Some employees may want to keep their personal pages separate from their work identity, while others could perceive favoritism if you connect with some but not others.

DON’T: Let employees post offensive or harassing language, pictures or video that impact or harm your business, customer or employees on public media sites. Employees may not be aware that some of their personal sites are open to the public, including customers, vendors, supervisors and coworkers. Your social media policy should refer to your zero-tolerance harassment policy. 

DON”T: Ignore the power of social media. Assign a person or department to monitor blogs and other social media sites to see what people are saying about your company. Respond to customer comments, deal with disparaging remarks and use it to see what others are saying about your competition. 

Brenda Gilchrist, SPHR, is principal/cofounder of The HR Matrix, a Santa Rosa-based full-spectrum management firm specializing in human resources, organization development and employee recruitment. Contact her at (707) 526-0877 or brenda@thehrmatrix.com .