Does LinkedIn Pose Risk to Employers?

Nick Fishman

Our good friend Jon Hyman at the Ohio Law blog wrote the following post concerning the risk employers face by using LinkedIn. I bet this is one issue many didn’t consider before posting a glowing recommendation.  I wonder if employers will develop policies that preclude employees for using this functionality in the future as it can be interpreted as a de facto employment reference interview.

Is LinkedIn a Risk for Employers?

One of the more interesting features of LinkedIn is the ability to recommend your connections. In fact, LinkedIn will prod you to recommend others to further complete your profile. For example, my LinkedIn profile is 90% complete, and it tells me I can get to 95% if I recommend another person. Most successful professionals share two personality traits that will cause them to strive for that 100% goal – overachieving and type-A personalities.

In today’s National Law Journal, however, Tresa Baldas makes an excellent point about the legal risks posed by LinkedIn recommendations. Let’s say, for example, a manager provides one of his subordinates a glowing LinkedIn recommendation. If that employee is later fired, the odds are pretty high that the employee will try to use that recommendation as evidence of pretext in a later discrimination suit.

Social media provides a gold mine of information to use in employment lawsuits. Employees’ Facebook pages, YouTube videos, and blogs are all fertile ground for discovering useful information to use against an employee. If employers are going to swim in these waters, they need to be equally mindful that what they write about an employee can also be used against the employer. When drafting a social media policy, consider these risks and decide whether an outright ban on LinkedIn recommendations is best for your organization.

Nick Fishman
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Nick Fishman

Nick Fishman is the co-founder of EmployeeScreenIQ, a leading, global employment background screening provider, and serves as the company’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. He pioneered the creation of EmployeeScreen University, the #1 educational resource on employment background checks for human resources, security and risk management professionals. A recognized industry expert, Nick is a frequent author, presenter and contributor to the news media. Nick is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio and Texas.
Nick Fishman
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