Should an Employer Google Recovery Jobs Applicants?

When it comes to searching for recovery jobs, it’s no secret that many have taken to social media to pursue companies and even try to land a job.  We’ve already written an article about that here.  We’ve even talked a bit about how employers are using social media to take a look at prospective employees.  However, many employers take this a step, or several steps, further with regards to prospective recovery jobs applicants and this is where some of the questions come up.  Should you take to Google and do thorough searches on prospective employees?

Google Your Recovery Jobs Applicants

The basic position, in most places, is that it is lawful to perform a simple Google search on a prospective employee.  However, how you use the information that you may run across may not be recovery jobslawful at all.   Remember, there are some things about people that we’d just rather not know and are better off not knowing.  Yet, once that proverbial cat is out of the bag, good luck stuffing it back in there.   In our article on Questions Not to Ask in an Addictions Job Interview, we talked a lot about discrimination laws.  These come into play here because, it is unlawful for you to discriminate against an employee, or prospective employee, based on information that you may obtain from a Google search that pertains to their: age, disability, gender, marital status, maternity, race, religion, or sexual orientation.  Discrimination claims can be very serious as compensation for them is uncapped and there may also be an award for “injury”.  So, if you are going to turn down a candidate, you best have a solid, objective and non-discriminatory reason for it.

Despite the terrifying potential consequences of “Googling” job applicants, I can tell you that most companies are now doing it anyway.  So, if you plan on doing this for your recovery jobs applicants, here are a few tips:

  1. Have uniform guidelines – This means that at a certain point in the hiring process, if one applicant is to be “screened”, they all should be and in the same manner.   The same search parameters should be used for each one.
  2. Have a non-decision maker do the “search” – This is a great idea and a layer of protection in the event that an issue of discrimination ever arises.  This way, any information related to “protected” characteristics of the person can be filtered out before being passed along to the hiring manager.
  3. Independently verify harmful information – What goes on the internet is not gospel and there are many false claims and things put out there to try to “harm” other people.  If something damaging is uncovered, take the time to verify the information “offline” before treating it as credible.
  4. Disclose to Applicant when required – There are some states that now require that you disclose to an applicant any adverse information that you find in public records in connection with a job application.  This could be related to credit, background checks or a google search.  Check your local laws and determine where and when you should be issuing a disclosure statement to your job applicants.

In some cases, doing a Google search of your recovery job applicants sounds like more trouble than it’s worth.   It’s true that you do need to be cautious and follow the law if this is something that you decide to do.  However, if you are treating all applicants the same and using a search engine as just one of many tools in selecting the ideal candidate for your open position, you should be fine.

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