LinkedIn and the Rise of “Big Data” Discrimination Cases

The use of social networking websites, contact sharing, and data collection on the internet, unscrupulous companies should be aware of the potential liabilities that come with using big data. LinkedIn, the well-known professional social networking site, is facing a federal class action lawsuit for violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). According to the complaint, the company sold information about user’s employment history to potential employers without consent. This kind of information has the potential to be extremely damaging to employees, resulting in adverse employment action, including failure to hire, demotion, or termination of employment.

keyboard-1280072-mUnder the FCRA, employers must follow strict guidelines about how they use employee credit, employment and insurance history. These protections are in place to ensure that employees are not wrongfully targeted or discriminated against during the application process. Employers must follow strict requirements related to consent to access data. They must also supply notices to applicants before they take any adverse action against an employee, including failure to hire, demotion, failure to promote, or termination of employment. Employees who lose opportunities as a result of their employment, credit, or other history must be given notice and the opportunity to contest the information provided by a reporting agency.

According to the lawsuit filed against LinkedIn, the company violated the FCRA by selling “profiles” on millions of users without verifying that the information would be used for legal purposes. There is some speculation that the case will turn on whether the company qualifies as a Consumer Reporting Agency and is held to the standards of the FCRA. Regardless, employees should be aware of the information that could be used against them, whether online and available to the public, or provided by third-party reporting agencies. Employers who use information illegally, including medical documents, credit card history, or credit reports, criminal records, as well as other personal information can be held liable.

Big data is becoming an issue not just for employees, but employers will be held to higher standards. An increasing number of complaints have been filed in relation to big data and FCRA compliance. Our Orange County employment law attorneys are committed to protecting the rights of workers throughout Southern California. We are committed to ensuring that workers are protected under both state and federal law and will take on big businesses to prevent discrimination and illegal hiring practices.

Remember that discrimination and big data can take many forms. An employer could use your Facebook page and make a judgment related to your national origin, sexual preference, or gender identity. A bad mark on your credit report could prevent you from getting the job. Employers must follow state and federal law when making important hiring decisions. Any adverse actions that stem from unlawful discrimination or retaliation should be scrutinized. Employees and applicants who have suffered “big data discrimination” may be able to take legal action against an employer.

Employment lawsuits can be filed with assistance from the Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Los Angeles, Riverside, and Orange County. Call 714-937-2020.

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