Recently, an interesting debate has erupted in the employment law blogosphere over this National Law Journal piece cautioning employers about the risks posed by making recommendations on LinkedIn — a social networking website for professionals. The perceived danger scenario is where a manager “recommends” the work of a subordinate, who is later terminated for poor performance. The former employee then sues, and uses the manager’s “recommendation” as evidence that the stated reason for the termination (poor performance) is a pretext. The debate over this issue centers on the true risk to employers of LinkedIn recommendations—some say the risk is real; others that it is overblown.
Our good friends Molly DiBianca of the Delaware Employment Law Blog and Daniel Schwartz of the Connecticut Employment Law Blog argue that the risk is overblown. First, they point out that this scenario has played out in exactly zero cases to date. Second, because managers are extremely unlikely to recommend poor performers, this scenario is unlikely to occur frequently. Jon Hyman of the Ohio Employment Law Blog and Patrick Smith of the Iowa Employment Law Blog disagree and argue that employers should be concerned about such recommendations because people tend to be careless on the internet, and a LinkedIn recommendation can provide a crushing blow to the employer’s chances of prevailing on summary judgment in litigation.