LinkedIn are facing a class-action lawsuit over one of the premium search features that recruiters can use on the website, whereby co-workers from an applicant’s work history are identified and can be approached for references.
The lawsuit in America, Sweet v. LinkedIn, alleges that the use of Reference Search affected and prevented employment opportunities for the plaintiffs, Tracee Sweet, Lisa Jaramillo and Tiffany Thomas, according to The New York Times.
The allegations in the lawsuit revolve around ‘LinkedIn members not being notified by LinkedIn (or anyone else) when potential employers run a Reference Report on them.’
‘The only parties that have information concerning the running of a Reference Report on a LinkedIn member are LinkedIn and the individual or entity that pulls the Reference Report.’
A reference search is part of the toolset provided by LinkedIn which locates people in your network who can provide reliable feedback about a job candidate or business prospect, as well as being able to see a list of people who worked at the same company during the same time period as the member you’d like to learn more about.
The lawsuit continues to allege that ‘As such, any potential employer can anonymously dig into the employment history of any LinkedIn member and make hiring and firing decisions based upon the information they gather, without the knowledge of the member, and without any safeguards for the accuracy of the information.’
The plaintiffs say they are seeking damages and trial by Jury
A LinkedIn spokesman in response to the lawsuit told the New York Times that the lawsuit is without merit and they are serious about users’ privacy.
He told the newspaper: ‘A reference search, which is only available to premium account holders, simply lets a searcher locate people in their network who have worked at the same company during the same time period as a member they would like to learn more about. A reference search does not reveal any of that member’s non public information.’