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Apr14

Linked In Recommendations

I got this question recently…what are the legal ramifications of a manager “liking” an employee or identifying their skill strength on LinkedIn then later on firing them? The following question was, “if I can promote skill sets on LinkedIn, then the employee leaves the company voluntarily, why can I only give name, dates of employment, and titles if asked versus describing those same skill sets?” Thoughts on this…

It’s perfectly legal for an employer to disclose truthful information about past employees. But, because of the risk of a manager disclosing too much information or revealing negative personal opinions about past employees rather than verifiable facts, employers opt to prohibit any release of information other than basic employment data i.e. name, dates of employment, and job title. These “no reference” policies are very common and aim to reduce the risk of defamation or wrongful termination claims.

Connecting with employees and acknowledging their skills on sites like LinkedIn can be helpful for both employer and employee. When a manager endorses the proficiencies of an employee, they’re validating the individual’s self-identified strengths and improving the individual’s professional brand. Similarly, by providing the endorsements the manager is promoting the company. Both parties can mutually benefit from the publicity.

Some HR/legal professionals caution employers/managers against endorsing employees because of the possibility of the endorsement being used against the employer if the employee is terminated. But, just like with any termination, the manager should have sufficient evidence to validate the need for termination that supersedes a skill endorsement on LinkedIn.

Let’s say a manager endorses an employee for business intelligence which is a commonly used skill on LinkedIn that basically means an individual has the ability to analyze information to make sound business decisions. After some time the employee has performance issues. The manager has documented the concerns and counseled the employee on numerous occasions. In accordance with company procedure/policy, the employee is terminated. Even if the employee claims he was wrongfully terminated and uses his manager’s endorsement to support his claim, the manager will have the documentation showing the employee’s performance issues and the attempts to help the employee improve them; thus, confirming the reason for termination.

Now, let’s say the same manager has no evidence that the employee had performance issues. The manager didn’t follow the company’s disciplinary policy and terminated the employee. In this case, the manager’s endorsement may work against the company since there is no other proof of misconduct or poor performance warranting termination.

So, connecting with employees and endorsing their skills on LinkedIn isn’t a horrible idea. But, to avoid potential issues it’s best to ensure all managers/supervisors are properly trained in company policies/procedures specifically disciplinary procedures, performance evaluations, and social media.

HTH!

This entry was posted on Friday, April 14th, 2017 at 6:35 pm and is filed under
Human Resources Management.
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