Earlier this month, a National Law Journal article suggested that LinkedIn recommendations are a potential "legal land mine" for employers.
Indeed, the article suggests that "management-side lawyers are warning employers about the hidden dangers of LinkedIn, the popular business networking site that posts recommendations for job candidates. Specifically, attorneys are advising employers to be wary of giving glowing remarks about employees on the site because the employers risk having the recommendations used against them in a discrimination or harassment suit."
In the abstract, that seems like fine advice. But what’s missing from the article is some common-sense and perspective about that risk.
In fact, I did a quick search of recent cases to see how many involved "LinkedIn" recommendations being a factor in discrimination cases.
For such a prominent article, any guesses on how many cases turned up? None.
Quite simply this risk is being overblown. How? Because it assumes that managers and supervisors routinely give recommendations to their lowest performing employees. That just doesn’t happen with any frequency — even before the advent of technology.
(Molly DiBianca, of the Delaware Employment Law Blog, agrees with me in a post that came out after this post was scheduled. Indeed, she suggests that "The real reason employers should be nervous about managers who write recommendations about employees is that those things take time to create and employers would be wise to make sure the recommendation-writing isn’t consuming an inordinate amount of time better spent supervising." )
Technology may have changed the medium in which the recommendations are (or are not) given, but the article assumes that managers and supervisors will throw caution into the wind and start making recommendations of people that, for the most part, they probably don’t like working with. Frankly, I don’t see that happening very much.
Employers have lots to worry about this year: new ADA rules, new FMLA regulations and lots of new laws either just passed or on the way.
Worrying about LinkedIn recommendations shouldn’t even be close to your company’s top 10 things to concern yourself about.