Out in the world, the same generational divide that creates different expectations of privacy may be at work when younger employees post statements on social media sites that are openly critical of their employer. Older generations probably see that as awfully risky behavior, while younger, more internet-fluent employees think of it the same way they think of complaining about the employer at the water cooler or at the bar after work.
When it comes to pre-hiring background checks or other employment-related inquiries, many employers are of the opinion that any information an employee or prospective employee chooses to share in the cyberworld is fair game for consideration and reflects on the author's judgment. Even though that view isn't likely to be shared by younger generations, for now it's a reality. Of course, information-gathering by employers, whether through a formal criminal background check or a quick Google search, continues to be fraught with peril. Publicly available information may have great value to employers, but it is also a source of potential legal exposure, and the acts of gathering and considering it may result in angry employees.
In the end, these legal developments and resulting public discussion serve to underscore the fact that employers -- and indeed all of us -- are operating in a brave new world and need to proceed with caution. Employers may be well-served in managing their workforce, and attempting to preserve good employee morale, by trying to view the issue of internet privacy rights through their employees' eyes.
- Senior Counsel
Dean LeDoux’s employment and litigation practice includes representing employers in litigation and also advising them on employment issues. Dean also has extensive business litigation experience. Over approximately the ...
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