Can your Employer do a Background Check on you via Facebook?

Can your Employer do a Background Check on you via Facebook?

The German government has recently proposed placing restrictions on the use by employers using Facebook to do background checks on potential employees. However, there are currently no such law in the United States.

When someone interviews for a job, can an employer look at a potential employees web postings like Facebook and MySpace?

Presently, there is no Federal Law or Ohio Law that restricts employers from going on the web and finding out any information about a potential employee that is published on the web, including web sites like Facebook. According to a survey published by Microsoft, 70% of job recruiters and mangers have used information found on the web to not hire someone. Many college career centers warn college students to be wary of what they put on their website, as it might come back to haunt them.

Are there any laws protecting you from prying eyes of potential employers?

The only Federal Law that seems applicable is the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. Various companies gather background information on individuals, which is something similar companies who gather credit information for credit scores . Generally, the information about you can be gathered and supplied to potential employers include:

  • Civil law suits and judgments for up to seven (7) years;
  • Arrest records for up to seven (7) years;
  • Convictions of a crime can be kept indefinitely.

The restrictions on how long information can be kept by the reporting companies does not apply to someone who earns $75,000 or more per year. Some states, such as California, have more restrictions on how long background information can be kept, but Ohio does not.

If you are interviewing for a job, can the potential employer check your background without your permission?

Under Federal Law, if a potential employer uses a third party service to check your background, they need your permission. If they use that report to deny you employment, they are supposed to tell you and give you a copy of the report. However, the law puts no restrictions on investigations done directly by the employer by going on the internet and seeing what they can find themselves.

Is there any information that is private?

Yes, the potential employer cannot obtain your education records, military service records or medical records without your permission. However, in today's tough job market, it is hard to refuse a request from your potential employer. The bottom line is that there is already a tremendous amount of information about you that can be obtained with little effort by going on the web or hiring a service. You should really pause and think if you want to help eliminate all of your privacy by putting so much more of your personal information on the web voluntarily.