Home > Property & Casualty > Beware proper usage of internet searches for employment purposes

Beware proper usage of internet searches for employment purposes

A presentation at the Risk & Insurance Management Society’s (RIMs) Annual Conference last week in Vancouver outlined the latest developments in Social Media Risks. Among the more surprising results was a report on liability associated with the use of information available on the internet that may be used to determine employment decisions. Tamara Russell, an attorney at Barran Liebman LLP in Portland, Oregon was quoted in Business Insurance magazine as saying: “You cannot ask certain questions online that you wouldn’t and shouldn’t ask during an interview”.

The article goes on to discuss a fictional employment candidate for whom a Google search picked up images of the candidate smoking cigarettes, holding a sign protesting her husband’s imprisonment for marijuana use, another of the candidate holding a sign saying “I am a Muslim woman”. If this candidate is not offered a position, the candidate may have valid concerns that one or more of these issues may have determined her fate rather than her qualifications and experience. Clearly employers should not base their hiring decisions on matters such as these, but will a court say that viewing the images is akin to asking inappropriate questions in an interview?

Ms. Russell recommends that employers get the permission of candidates to research them on the internet and then give the candidates a chance to explain anything that might impact their job candidacy.

Employers should review their Employment Practices Insurance programs to be certain that any liability arising out of such actions will be covered by insurance.

Connect with Phil Edmundson on LinkedIn.

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  1. November 3, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    Real appreciation for the great article and the information, it is really good and helpful. Thanks..Awesome)

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