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Survey: 45 percent of employers use Facebook to screen job applicants

Lots of people here in Detroit have heard warnings about employers using Facebook or other social media sites to screen prospective job applicants, but does that actually happen? Yes, according to a recent survey.

About 45 percent of employers use sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter when they are trying to decide things like whom to hire or whether an employee is worth keeping on staff, according to a firm that monitors how we use the Internet. Now, not all those decisions are negative, but still, this is an interesting area of employment law because it raises the risk an employer could make a decision based on improper grounds.

Case in point: 35 percent of the companies surveyed said they had chosen not to hire an applicant based on something they found online. A big thing employers watch out for, supposedly, is whether a person is using the Internet to speak ill of a previous employer or former colleagues.

Once again, we cannot jump the gun here. It is not automatically improper for an employer to look up an employee online. However, depending on what they find and what decision they subsequently make, it is possible that information found online could facilitate an illegal decision. If you ever become concerned that you have been slighted because your employer found something unflattering about you online, you may want to discuss the situation with an attorney. It is important that you be aware of all your rights and options in such situations.

Source: The Huffington Post, "How Companies Use Facebook To Hire and Fire Employees," James Sunshine, August 4, 2011

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