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July 2015 - Google With Care

July 2015 - Google With Care

Everybody does it, when you’re introduced to someone new or you hear that your company is hiring someone new, you get curious and “Google” them. You just type their name in your search bar and see what shows up. This process is called cyber-vetting and is more common than you would think. This process also causes more issues and is a lot more difficult than one would think.
In defense of the Google method, it is a good way to learn things about people before you get to know them.  However, from a human resource standpoint it’s a nightmare.
Take for example a situation at the University of Kentucky when in 2007, a C. Martin Gaskell applied for a position as an astronomy professor at the university. Then of course someone at the university had to go and do an internet search on Dr. Gaskell. What they found was nothing out of the ordinary it was nothing offensive. They just discovered that Dr. Gaskell had written a paper discussing how the theory of creationism fits into modern day sciences, and how he is an Evangelical Christian.
Under normal circumstances, this information would not affect the work place, but in an interoffice email, one employee stated, “Clearly this man is complex and likely fascinating to talk with, but potentially evangelical. If we hire him, we should expect similar content to be posted on or directly linked from the department Web site.” Which in and of itself is not a great thing to say, but what was really inappropriate is that during Dr. Glaskell’s interview, the person interviewing the doctor, stated that they had personally researched his religious beliefs and that expressing them would be a matter of concern.
According to federal law, it is illegal to persecute someone based on religion. It is also illegal to ask about someone’s religious beliefs during an interview. When the university finished interviewing potential candidates, they made the decision to not to hire Dr. Gaskell and instead chose to hire someone who would fit in better at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Gaskell then promptly sued the University for academic persecution based on his religious faith.
The University saved itself further humiliation by settling out of court, but they still have tarnished their reputation.  In the future when people apply there, they will always be wondering, are my personal beliefs going to prevent me from getting this job? This one situation will forever change the University’s hiring process.
The interesting thing about this case is the people involved did not see how this would be offensive or wrong.  They made a case where, in their own minds questioning this man’s religion was important for the job he had applied for they just did not want to mix science and religion. But as previously mentioned, freedom of religion is a protected class under federal law.
Some other things that are protected under federal law are age, race, sex, ethnicity, and disability. When your are cyber vetting potential employees, you need to know what is protected and you need to make sure that those protected characteristics do not influence your decision making.
But how does one prove that one of the mentioned protected classes, had no influence on hiring or not hiring a potential candidate? That’s where it gets tricky, its near impossible to say that something you discovered online, has no effect on how you feel about a potential employee.  And because of that, it makes it very easy for someone who is not hired to take action against the company who did not hire them.
Which, in and of itself, is a terrible thought.  How does a company prevent itself from being sued? That is where we come in! We at Commercial Investigations LLC, only pass on the information that you can use during the hiring process. Thus, removing all of the liability from you. By adding a Cyber Investigation to your background investigations process, you are saving yourself both time and getting rid of the risk of legal action.
Another issue with cyber-vetting, is knowing what online sources you can and cannot trust. In reality anyone can post anything online, which is what makes the Internet great, but it also makes it is very difficult to trust anything you find online.
For example, when a finalist for a Chief of Police position, living in Northern California was the subject of cyber-vetting, the person who was researching him discovered the candidate’s very inappropriate Facebook page.  Upon further investigation, it was discovered that the Facebook page did not belong to the candidate, but rather to the candidate’s rival for the same position.
So how do you trust the things you find online?  The answer to that is simple; you come to us, where we will not stop until we verify every last bit of information that we uncover. In addition, because we take such pride in our work, we will try our hardest and will not give up until we verify the information that you as our client is looking for.
At Commercial Investigations LLC, we have two different levels of Cyber Investigation - level one and level two. The level one is our basic Cyber Investigation, where we do an online search for the subject using their name, phone number, and email. We use this search to look for the subject’s social media and to see if there is anything that would negatively affect your company, for example any criminal activity. The level two cyber investigation, gets more in-depth. We will still run the basic Cyber Investigation inquiry, but we will also run searches that allow us to discover, places where the subject has lived or worked that they did not previous disclose to us. This allows us to reach out to former employers and verify all of the information that we find. We also have a fully customizable Cyber Investigation option. This involves an intense discussion setting specific parameters that our client wants in their customized Cyber Investigation.
We can do all of this for you, and it will reduce your risk of legal action from potential employees, and we will do everything we can to make sure that the information you receive is 100% accurate and 100% legal. As a fun surprise, we are actually running a special on our cyber investigations this month, so if you wanted to give cyber investigations a try, now is the time!

Kelsey Kreiling