Four plaintiffs have issued LinkedIn with a lawsuit on its ‘Reference Search’. Tracee Sweet, Tiffany Thomas, Lisa Jaramillo and James Ralston are suing because they lost out on employment opportunities because of the professional network.
According to The New York Times the class-action lawsuit was filed in October in Northern California, and the plaintiffs contends that employers can look into any employment history of any given LinkedIn member. By doing so this can make hiring and firing choices based upon the information they collect through searches.
In the lawsuit the plaintiffs considers this to be a violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, it seems “Reference Search” is to blame. An employer can purchase premium LinkedIn account status, and when they do they can start searching to create an inventory of individuals who worked at the same firm at the same time as the applicant. Employers also have the option to message these people on the list via LinkedIn.
We all know that a company cannot produce a bad reference, they can refuse to provide you with a reference but they cannot issue one that puts you down in any way. So in a way if a reference search provides anything bad this is somewhat a problem in getting future jobs.
Someone may not have been great in one particular job, but could be fantastic in the next. Reference search is only available to premium account holders only, it allows people to search people in the same network who has worked at the same firm during the same time as a member they would like to learn more about. The New York Times reports, “A reference search does not reveal any of that member’s nonpublic information.”
Could you really lose a job opportunity because of these reference searches?