This post is part of our ongoing series exploring the impact of technology on legal issues. For an introduction to the series and a collection of the posts in the series, check out this post.

The hiring process is a key component of operating a successful business and employers do their best to properly vet prospective employees. Many employers conduct searches online through search engines and scour social media profiles as a part of that process, but there are significant legal risks if that process is not conducted with caution. Here is an overview of a few of the potential issues an employer could face with seeking out information online:

Discrimination Claims

Searching social media profiles can reveal all kind of information about an individual, including sensitive information which could identify that person as a member of a protected class. In Pennsylvania, protected classes include race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex (including pregnancy), age, physical or mental disability, use of a guide or support animal, having an association with an individual with a handicap or disability, familial status, education, sexual orientation, veteran/military status and genetic information.

Think about how much of the above information you could learn as a result of a quick review of someone’s Facebook profile. If an employer decides not to hire a prospective employee based on learning some of the above information, the applicant could bring a discrimination claim.

In order to avoid liability for these claims, consider the value of conducting a social media search in the first place. Is there significant job-related information that can be gained from conducting such a search? Employers should carefully document all decisions made in the hiring process and use the same screening process for all applicants.

If you decide that social media searches are useful for identifying job-related characteristics, then consider having one person or a small group conduct the search, and instruct them to filter out all information that is not job-related and pass that on to those with input on the hiring process in order to avoid decision-making based on protected criteria. Continue Reading Use Caution When Using Social Media Searches in the Hiring Process

Almost 11 short years ago, the first iPhone made its debut on June 29, 2007.  This inaugural version featured the ability to take photos but not videos, maxed out at a whopping 16 GB hard drive and 128 MB of RAM.  The phone also lacked a GPS, digital compass, and forget about touch ID.  Fast forward to the iPhone X, Apple’s newest iPhone.  The X has 256 GB  of storage, 3 GB of RAM,  and unlocks using facial recognition technology.  And as for those videos the first iPhone couldn’t manage?  The X features 2 cameras that boast more features than most digital camera and offer 4K quality video recording at 60 frames per second.  Today a person can operate their business from the palm of their hand while on the go.  And it is not just our phones that are advancing leaps and bounds.  Cars have self-driving features and refrigerators can plan your meals and text you a shopping list.  The speed of technological advancements is mind blowing and getting ever faster.  Continue Reading Introducing a New Series – Exploring the Impact of Technology on Legal Issues

As a business attorney, I try to understand my clients’ businesses and keep up with trends that may help my clients address problems they may encounter as their business grows. Three of my favorite podcasts that help me do that include Mac Power Users, which helps you get the most out of your technology, Cortex, which features business and productivity tips from independent content creators, and Free Agents, which discusses the trials and tribulations of starting your own business. On all three shows, the hosts have mentioned that they have hired virtual assistants to help them with various aspects of their growing businesses.

While browsing LinkedIn, I noticed that Frances Annis, a connection I met through the Southern Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce, had recently moved to a Lancaster-based virtual administrative support company called My Reliable Admin. Fran put me in touch with My Reliable Admin founder, Angie Mobarak, who explained that the company provides virtual administrative support to busy professionals and business across the country, utilizing technology and flexible plans and pricing to suit the needs of their clients.

Angie described My Reliable Admin’s approach to providing a positive client experience: “The VA (Virtual Assistant)/Client relationship hinges greatly on trust and communication. The highly responsive nature of our Assistants creates an in-person feel even though clients may reside in a different time-zone from their VA. Full transparency is also critical in building trust as our clients can always know how their Assistant’s time is being spent by viewing a task tracking portal we provide.” Continue Reading Need Administrative Help? Consider Hiring a Virtual Assistant

Earlier today a client emailed me and asked for my mailing address because her scanner wasn’t working. As I was replying (using my TextExpander snippet for my office mailing address), I thought to myself: there has to be a better way!

Turns out, there is. And it’s even easier than my initial recommendation, which was to go to the app store on your smartphone or tablet and download one of the many excellent apps that use the device’s camera to scan and create PDF files. I’ve used Scanbot for iPhone to do this for years.

Caution: from here on out, this post is a complete Apple lovefest. If you have an Android or Microsoft device, you can read on and see what you’re missing, or just check in with Brandon Harter – I’m sure he can give you a tip in the right direction. Continue Reading Is That a Scanner in Your Pocket? How to Scan Documents with Your iPhone or iPad

Like brothers who favor rival football teams, my colleague Matt Landis and I often spar over our respective technological preference for Apple vs. Google/Windows/Microsoft. Generally, I think of this as just that, a pair of rival paths.

Imagine my surprise when Matt sent me this article from Daring Fireball reviewing the Google Pixel 2. I assumed he was egging me on to follow his path of annually upgrading to the latest smartphone. While I do have a first-generation Pixel, I am not feeling the need to upgrade to the latest version. But he was after something much more nefarious… convincing me that our paths were not as different as I assumed. Continue Reading Can’t we all get along?

Many technology enthusiasts subscribe to the theory that to appear on the cutting edge they need to always upgrade to the latest version. The latest software patch, the latest device, etc. I, on the other hand, have always felt like an upgrade needed to give me something (although when I do make a move I tend to spend more than your average bear doing so). Continue Reading Yes, the “Feel” of Your Technology Matters

As Apple fans everywhere well know, the iPhone X is available for preorder on Friday, October 27 at 3:01 am EDT. If you followed my advice from last week by freezing your credit reports and you’re planning on preordering from Apple or your carrier of choice, make sure you temporarily unfreeze your credit reports if you’re the account holder. If you’re on a family plan, make sure that the account holder either does not have their credit reports frozen or goes through the process to unfreeze their reports. Most cell phones are purchased using an installment sale contract, and therefore require a credit report request. Continue Reading Preordering an iPhone X tonight? Unfreeze Your Credit Reports

In the wake of the Equifax data breach, there has been much discussion about the effects of the breach, and how to protect yourself if you were affected. Even though I confirmed that I was not affected by the breach through Equifax’s website, out of an abundance of caution I chose to freeze my credit reports with each of the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Transunion, and Experian. You can check whether you were impacted by the Equifax breach here: https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/am-i-impacted/.

Although I’ve (thankfully) never been a victim of identity theft, I chose to freeze my credit reports because unfortunately I’ve witnessed clients who have experienced identity theft – it’s expensive, time-consuming, and can quickly ruin your financial independence. For a window into what can be involved in an identity theft case, check out the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft website at www.IdentityTheft.gov.  To me, the small headache of lifting the freeze when I want to open a new account is a worthwhile step to help avoid a devastating identity theft situation. Continue Reading How To Freeze Your Credit Reports

It’s no secret that our firm loves technology. In an effort to provide more efficient service to my clients, I routinely try out new apps and technologies to evaluate whether they would help me do my job more effectively.

I recently tried out one app that quickly achieved “can’t live without it” status: TextExpander by Smile Software. Continue Reading How TextExpander Can Save You Time

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently issued an updated version of its Endorsement Guides, which includes important information about the FTC’s current thoughts on when and how material connections between brands and endorsers should be disclosed.

In yesterday’s post, I discussed some background information about the theory behind FTC rules and endorsements and summarized some of the key points from the FTC’s guidance on when disclosures should be made. Below is a discussion of a few key points from the Endorsement Guides about how disclosures should be made online. Continue Reading Marketers and Influencers: How Should You Make Disclosures Online?