The Legal Risk of Viewing Job Candidates’ LinkedIn Profiles

I thought that nearly everyone uses LinkedIn to gather background information on the important business relationships.  But at a Labor and Employment Law Seminar for Human Resource Professionals, I learned that is not the case.

In a seminar session led by Alan Kaplan of Masuda Funai, Alan asked for a show of hands for how many used LinkedIn to vet candidates. To my surprise, less than half the audience raised their hands. Then I learned why.

Alan advised the audience NOT to view the LinkedIn profiles of candidates if you seek to minimize the risk of potential litigation for discriminatory hiring practices. He cited an example where a candidate’s LinkedIn profile listed affiliations with either ethnic or religious orientated LinkedIn Groups.

See No Potential Evil

See No Potential Evil

He noted that a candidate who applies and feels he or she was denied employment on the basis of their ethnic or religious association could have grounds for filing suit.  So to play it safe, they recommend that not viewing candidate profiles.

An Alternative

What CAN be done is to use an outside recruiter to find candidates and instruct the recruiter not to share information that would be legally inappropriate.

Or, Take Your Chances

It is not illegal to view the LinkedIn profile of a candidate.  Just understand that, when you do, you increase the risk of legal action. So I’m simply sharing a qualified legal opinion that recommends against the practice.  You need weigh the risks as with any business decision.  And I suspect the folks at LinkedIn might be concerned about all of this as it was founded first and foremost as a recruiting tool.

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