No need to check applicants' social media

Some employers are taking advantage of people's tendency to post explicit and sometimes disparaging information about themselves on Facebook and other media by demanding access to those sites before hiring. After incidents in which patient information was posted on Facebook, some healthcare providers might consider monitoring employee sites on an ongoing basis.

Not really a good idea, advises Edward F. Harold, JD, a partner with the law firm of Fisher & Phillips in New Orleans.

"The law allows you to ask if you want, but we advise clients not to. You may be taking on more responsibility than you realize," Harold says. "If you have access to his Facebook, but you don't bother to check it for 18 months, and then the employee does something criminal, you could be asked why you didn't see his posts about how he was going to shoot up the place. You had his password, and you could have seen the warning signs."

Demanding access also could drive away otherwise good employees who think it's just too intrusive, Harold says. "Generally, if someone is posting something on social media that has any real bearing on their work performance or trustworthiness, you'll hear about it from coworkers," he says. "It's better to hear about that way than to take on the responsibility of monitoring everyone's social media."