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Lawyers Advise Clients Not to Get Too Chummy with Employees on LinkedIn

By Kevin Fayle on July 07, 2009 | Last updated on March 21, 2019
There are lots of social networks out there.  LinkedIn is the main social networking site for business networks, and the site allows people to post recommendations for other people in their network.  Many people look at this as an innocent way to build their network and strengthen their relationships, thus most recommendations are positive.

Many management-side attorneys are beginning to see problems with managers or employers using the site to post recommendations for employees, however, according to the National Law Journal
These attorneys fear that plaintiffs' attorneys can now cruise LinkedIn to find gushing recommendations from managers that contradict an employer's assertion that a termination was performance-related.

"That could prove problematic if a plaintiffs' lawyer is mining these sites," said Wayne E. Pinkstone of the Philadelphia office of Atlanta's Fisher & Phillips, who represents employers in work place disputes. "The whole social networking issue is something that's on our minds as management-side employment lawyers. And because of the explosion in [LinkedIn's] use, we suspect at some point that we're going to see its use pop up in litigation....It's probably only a matter of time."
In addition, employers could get into hot water by using information they find on LinkedIn in a discriminatory manner, especially during the hiring process.  A recent survey by Jump Start Social Media found that 75% of hiring managers use LinkedIn to verify the credentials of applicants. 

That's understandable, said management-side attorney Carolyn Plump, a partner at Philadelphia's Mitts Milavec who sees the value in using LinkedIn to research a candidates' background. Employers should just be mindful not to use any information they find in a discriminatory manner, she said.
Social networks can be a fun and useful tool to market your firm, find and research employees, and drum up new business.  There are many pitfalls to avoid with social networks, though.  It's important to consider how you are using social networks, and what the potential ramifications of your actions on these networks might be.

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