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Googling a job candidate? Beware these legal pitfalls

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Elizabeth Hall, Editor
(800) 543-2055  (703) 904-8000

Free report says employers MUST do 2 things before googling a job candidate

(Falls Church, Va.)—Need an employment background check?  Beware: Google, Facebook and other social media have changed everything.  While smart employers and HR professionals never hire a candidate without an employment background check, even background checks themselves can lead to legal pitfalls.

Two trends now compel more and more employers to conduct employment background checks (and make more and more mistakes): 1) increased terrorism threats and workplace violence and 2) the rise of “negligent hiring” lawsuits … any employer can be held liable for “failure to warn,” should an employee turn violent on the job.

To help employers and HR professionals navigate the legally risky terrain of background checks, Business Management Daily has published a newly updated, free report: Employment Background Check Guidelines.

Employment Background Check Guidelines offers advice on: complying with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, conducting credit background checks and running a criminal check to avoid negligent-hiring lawsuits. It includes the implications of recent lawsuits and court rulings.

The free report offers nine specific guidelines to properly conduct reference/background checks. It explains why and how screening candidates online on social networking sites is legally risky business (including the two things employers MUST remember to do each time they even THINK of googling a candidate).

The free report also offers advice to employers seeking third-party background-checking firms, including what questions to ask before choosing a provider.

Megan Anderson, Esq., a principal at Gray Plant Mooty in Minneapolis who concentrates her practice in employment law counseling and litigation, contributed to the report. Anderson notes, "Online tools can be highly valuable in recruiting and selecting the best candidates and screening out bad hires. But new technology can be both a blessing and a curse. Those activities come with potential employment law risks that are still evolving." For example:
•    Negligent hiring liability. "Consider whether the nature and duties of particular positions might create a higher risk of harm to others if you fail to carefully and thoroughly screen applicants for safety or other risks," warns Anderson.

•    Outsourced background checks. Under federal law (and more restrictive state laws in many states), employers that pay an outside entity to conduct an applicant background check must satisfy certain legal requirements even before obtaining or acting on the background check.

•    Learning of protected status. Anti-discrimination laws require employers to use a consistent approach in online screening. It’s easy to learn about someone’s protected characteristics by looking at social media sites. It is also illegal to make hiring decisions based on any of those characteristics. "Make certain you can cite a job-related justification if you use screening results to disqualify candidates," Anderson says. Constructing a wall between the ultimate hiring decision-maker and the individual who conducts the online screening can help make sure any legally protected information about an applicant won’t be shared.

•    Privacy concerns. An employer that conducts online screening could face invasion-of-privacy claims or claims that it violated various electronic communications laws. To minimize that risk, "Don’t access restricted online sites in ways that might be found to be fraudulent, deceitful or otherwise improper," Anderson says.

Read more by downloading the free report here on Employment Background Check Guidelines.

About Business Management Daily
Business Management Daily, a division of Capitol Information Group, Inc., has been providing sound news and advice since 1937, giving business professionals the news, skills and strategies they need to grow their business, avoid legal pitfalls and advance careers. Visit us at www.BusinessManagementDaily.com for webinars, online training resources, subscription newsletters, free reports, email updates.

Business Management Daily, a division of Capitol Information Group, Inc., is located at: 7600A Leesburg Pike, West Bldg - Suite 300, Falls Church, Va. 22043-2004; (703) 905-8000

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