Thanks in part to our last post, Detroit readers know that employer sometimes hunt around online for information about a prospective employee. That's nothing new. However, there seems to be some evidence that a new trend has started: employers asking job applicants for their Facebook login information so that they have full access to the person's profile.
Does that seem like a violation of employee rights? Certainly in a privacy sense. But in a legal sense, the jury is still out, so to speak.
This practice appears to be most common in public-service jobs, such as working for a government agency or a police department. While it is natural that these organizations want to hire respectable and upstanding people to represent them, it certainly seems like an invasive practice.
The American Civil Liberties Union recently had to intervene in the case of a Maryland prison guard who was asked for his Facebook password upon returning from a leave of absence. Supposedly, the man's employer wanted to make sure he had actually been to his mother's funeral when he was on leave.
No matter what, it's just a good idea to make sure that your "social media presence," (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) does not contain anything that would embarrass you or make you look bad because, obviously, people can see it.
But if you ever find yourself in a situation where you believe you were denied employment or punished professionally for something your employer found online, you may want to speak to an employment law attorney about the matter. It is entirely possible that nothing untoward occurred, but you want to make sure that the rights to which you are entitled have not been disrespected.
Source: The Associated Press, "Employers ask job applicants for their Facebook passwords," Manuel Valdes, March 21, 2012