The Internet, You and Your Employees
Practices should have clear written policies so everyone is aware of what they can do online during work hours and what is always inappropriate.
Telemedicine may come to mind when you think about internet legal issues that can affect veterinary practices. However, it's not the only issue. Let's examine three others.
Social Media "Research"
Social media makes finding information about people, including those you are considering hiring, so easy. But is searching on social media platforms for information about job candidates legitimate? As with most broad questions posed about the ever-evolving internet, the answer is "It depends."
Researching job applicants' social media profiles is not, in general, illegal, but don't do so haphazardly. Instead, create a clear written policy about which sites will be reviewed to find clearly defined pieces of information. Also determine who will review these profiles and what information will be housed in your records. To add a layer of protection to your social media policy, consider having a person who does not have the ability to hire - a non-decision maker - do the research.
Make sure you follow the policy consistently for all candidates, not only certain ones. Acting inconsistently when an issue involves a protected class could open you up to a discrimination lawsuit. A protected class is any group of people with common characteristics who have legal protections from discrimination because of those characteristics. These characteristics include race, color, religion, national origin, age, gender, pregnancy status, disabilities and more.
Here's how something could quickly go wrong. Let's say you obtain a piece of information that theoretically could lead to your not hiring a candidate. Then let's say you don't hire that candidate, but this piece of information had no bearing on your decision. The candidate could claim a connection between your hiring decision and an employment or labor law violation.
Here's another issue to consider: If your investigation includes a review of the job applicant's credit history, financial history, driver's license verification or other pieces of related information, you may run afoul of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act.