Most LinkedIn users use their profiles as a networking tool when looking to change employment or make new business connections. Despite its growing success, a group of members of this website have filed suit under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) alleging that a tool called the “Reference Search” ruined their chances of getting hired by potential employers.
The way Reference Search works is by providing employers looking to hire with a list of LinkedIn members who are good candidates for the position. LinkedIn would chose candidates based on past employment profiles and would recommend applicants who have worked with the company before. The plaintiffs argue that this mechanism puts applicants at a disadvantage because employers or co-workers can choose not to interview or reach out to certain applicants without the applicant agreeing to the reference.
LinkedIn reports that it regularly gathers information on its members to include in its Reference Reports that it provides to third parties. The law suit states that LinkedIn is in the business of furnishing consumer reports to third parties that are used or expected to be used for employment purposes. Therefore, the argument is, this makes LinkedIn a consumer reporting agency. As LinkedIn creates consumer reports for employment purposes, it must adhere to the mandates of the FCRA.
The lawsuit alleges that a co-worker forming an opinion on whether or not to grant an interview based on information contained in LinkedIn’s Reference Report may not be a qualified source to form such an opinion. Specifically, the lead plaintiff in the case argues that she was initially offered employment with a hospitality company and soon after her job offer was revoked when the company relied upon LinkedIn’s Reference Search. The hospitality company stated it based its decision not to hire the plaintiff after gathering references from its search. The plaintiff argues she was never advised of the references and not provided with an adverse action letter, as required by the FCRA, stating the reasons she was denied employment, a necessary step of conducting an employment background check and a violation of the FCRA.
LinkedIn has responded that it will defend itself in the suit and that it did not violate the FCRA. If you believe your rights have been violated during an employee background check, contact SmithMarco P.C. for a completely free case review.