Posted On: December 11, 2008

Illinois Internet Information Search For Employee Background Information a goldmine or minefield?

Illinois Corporations and companies are turning to the Internet to find out about perspective employees. Utilizing social networking websites like facebook, myspace, avvo and doing google searches to find out what potential employees do in their free time and who they really are. This may open employers up to discrimination charges based on negligent hiring, negligent retention or respondeat superior. Additionally, employers are using the Internet to do credit checks and background checks which may lead to disparate impact challenges under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), credit checks (i.e. resulting in the reporting of credit scores") are done 35 percent of the time in making hiring decisions. Credit scores are much lower for counties that have high percentages of minorities, especially African Americans and Hispanics. Additionally, employees with disabilities may have Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") claims if they are not hired because of low credit scores. As a group disabled people have lower credit scores and therefore an employer who doesn't hire a prospective applicant because of a lower credit score would never hire a disabled person and may be subjected to an ADA claim.

The Internet provides a fast and inexpensive way to gather information about either employees or prospective employees. The problem with the Internet as an information resource is the information may be inaccurate or downright false.

A red flag to an employee that Internet related information may be used against him during the interview process would be mention of either a facebook, myspace or other social networking website. If you believe you were not hired or promoted because of information about you that was found on the Internet or because you have a low credit score, you may have a claim against an employer and should contact an attorney that concentrates in employment law.