Tuesday, July 7, 2009

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.

Presented by Kohrman Jackson & Krantz, with offices in Cleveland and Columbus.

For more information, contact Jon Hyman, a partner in our Labor & Employment group, at (216) 736-7226 or jth@kjk.com.