Family Wants Social Media Background Checks After Workplace Shooting

Posted by Kristina Taylor
May 6, 2013

Family Wants Social Media Background Checks After Workplace Shooting

Last summer, a supermarket employee in New Jersey walked into his workplace and killed two employees before shooting himself. It was later revealed the gunman had posted this chilling question three years prior on his Twitter account: “Is it normal to want to kill ALL of ur (sic) coworkers?”

In the wake of this tragedy, family members of one of the victims are now lobbying for legislation that would require an employer to review a job applicant’s social media history as part of their background check before hiring them. Aptly named “Cristina’s Law” after 18-year-old victim Cristina Lobrutto, the bill contradicts new legislative proposals by state and federal lawmakers seeking to protect an individual’s right to social media privacy.

This year, thirty-five states currently have legislation pending that would prohibit employers from requesting an applicant’s social media password as a condition for employment. Maryland, California, Washington, New Jersey, Illinois are some of the states that have already passed such laws. Similar legislation also prevents colleges and universities from requesting social media personal information.

Advocates of Cristina’s law argue that if employers had seen the New Jersey shooter’s previous Twitter posts, he never been hired by the supermarket chain. Opponents of the law argue that reading one’s social media history is the equivalent to asking for their personal diary or reading private emails. Lawmakers voting to prohibit social media screenings feel that a basic criminal background check should be sufficient.

So what do you think? Should employers be able to consider social media posts before hiring applicants, or is this a violation of privacy?

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