One of the hottest and most controversial topics in the background screening space is the use of social networks to screen employees.
The New York Law Journal covers this important issue in an article titled “Social Networking and Blogging: Managing the Conversation.”
- Employers choosing to screen blogs and social networking profiles must also comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA requires an applicant’s or employee’s consent before an employer may engage a “consumer reporting agency” to produce a “consumer report” on that individual. FCRA does not prohibit employers from receiving or using the consumer report that contains information derived from social networking sites or blogs, but it requires disclosure that such information resulted in an adverse employment decision.
- Employers should also develop clear rules regarding their hiring procedure if they wish to make use of available online information from personal blogs and social networking sites for screening purposes.
- For instance, it is vital that a wall be constructed between the ultimate decision maker and the individual conducting the initial online research. While specific rules will vary based on an individual employer’s needs, any employer utilizing these technologies should ensure that irrelevant information is screened and filtered before it reaches the decision maker.
- The law applicable to employee blogging and social networking is still evolving, and the lack of legal precedent leaves significant room for interpretation. When making use of online resources, however, it is better to err on the side of caution, as the potential risks to the employer can be significantly greater than any benefits the additional information social networking sites and blogs may provide.
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