Social media and social sites are really taking off. The businessy LinkedIn may have crossed the line with respect to privacy rights as is being reported across the www. The history is that LinkedIn is a free and paid professional social media website for business professionals. It is presently facing a class action lawsuit in California by professionals who have paid LinkedIn premium account status. Professionals using the website are apparently able to find other individuals’ employment info within their network that have worked at an organization at the same time as a current job applicant with the same name.
The recruiter can then confidentially contact the people who used to work with the applicant, have applied for and who are requesting previous employment information about a current job applicant (Source.) According to four LinkedIn members who filed a lawsuit claim, the system violates the Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970. This is legislation that was enacted to protect against potential misuse of consumer’s credit. The four filing the California class action lawsuit are Lisa Jaramillo, Traccee Sweet, Tiffany Thomas and James Ralston.
The website has a Premium Help Center that states that reference searches can be used to locate people in your network for reliable feedback about a business prospect or job candidate. The search will show a list of people who have worked at the same company during the same period of time as the candidate the person is seeking more information about. July 14, 2014 Tracee Sweet one of the four plaintiff’s submitted a cover letter for a business prospect in the hospital industry using LinkedIn.
Sweet said she received a LinkedIn notification from the general manager of the potential employer who had viewed her profile. Sweet stated the general manager contacted her by email and emailed her later in the week. The plaintiff said she offered the general manager a list of references if he required them. Sweet was notified she had been hired for the job without the offered references, but later the company called Sweet to inform her she would not be hired for the position.
Sweet questioned the general manager why she was not being hired and was informed that the company had checked some references and based on them they revoked the job offer. The other three plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit have had similar experiences. According to a LinkedIn spokesman the company takes member privacy seriously and will fight the lawsuit. The spokesman said only premium account holders are able to locate people within their network that have worked at the same company during the same time period to learn more about the person.
Senior employment law editor at XpertHR Susie Munro said in the UK there are many employers who give references with limited factual information, such as the position held and the dates of employment. She said that an employer may have specific rules for its staff if contacted for a reference using the LinkedIn reference search function. Munro stated that the employee providing the reference should make it clear whether it is provided on behalf of an organization or in a personal capacity. What do you think as a lawyer? Does LinkedIn get a pass?
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