Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Judges Rule Google Search by Employer Not Illegal

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the mebbe-you-shouldn't-be-talking-about-that-online dept.

Google 185

An anonymous reader passed us a link to an Ars Technica article about a failed lawsuit over a Google search. A federal circuit court of appeals has upheld the original ruling against David Mullins, who claimed that Googling his name constituted ex parte communications prior to firing him. "Through a series of events, Mullins' employer found that he had misused his government vehicle and government funds for his own purposes — such as sleeping in his car and falsifying hotel documents to receive reimbursements, withdrawing unauthorized amounts of cash from the company card, and traveling to destinations sometimes hundreds of miles away from where he was supposed to be ... Mullins' supervisor provided a 23-page document listing 102 separate instances of misconduct. Mullins took issue with a Google search that Capell performed just before authorizing his firing. During this Google search, Capell found that Mullins had been fired from his previous job at the Smithsonian Institution and had been removed from Federal Service by the Air Force."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Does that mean (3, Interesting)

MECC (8478) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081343)

Does that mean google searches by employee are okay too?

Re:Does that mean (5, Funny)

Deltaspectre (796409) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081393)

Sure, but what are you going to do? Fire your boss?

Re:Does that mean (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081489)

No, trying to be manipulative has you becoming like the PHB.
However, the phrase "due diligence" comes to mind.
As with testing your code, the sooner you can spot the bug, the more gooder.

Re:Does that mean (5, Funny)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081675)

Well in Soviet Russia, that did happen once.

Re:Does that mean (5, Insightful)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081881)

Yes, I "fired" a certain Healthcare IT company that was interviewing me after finding out by Googling that they practically run a sweatshop, paying a salary and making people work up to 60hrs/week. They especially love H1B individuals and make them slave day and night, at least for 5 years and if they complain they are fired and are asked to repay the 'legal' fees incurred for their H1B visa processing. I am a citizen, so that would not have concerned me directly but any company that does that is not a place I want to work.

So yeah, if I had not known, I would have been unpleasantly surprised by the working environment. Google works both ways.

Most of the time people complain how "Google has ruined my chances ... blah blah" what they don't realize is that Google can also be used to ones' advantage. If Google can 'store' bad stuff it can also store 'good' stuff. It is not hard at all to create some fictitious online profile (use your name and go to some charity and help the poor kittens forums) so everyone one searching for your name will end up seeing that and think 'oh, how sweet!' Yeah, I thought about starting a personal PR business to manage people's online presense and mold it to whatever they want to appear, but I like programming better...Or at least that's what my online "presense" suggests ;-)

Re:Does that mean (1, Flamebait)

Homr Zodyssey (905161) | more than 7 years ago | (#19082355)

Perhaps, before managing other people's online *presence* you should learn to spell it? :D

Re:Does that mean (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 7 years ago | (#19082989)

a certain Healthcare IT company
Is that the one where one of the company president's memo to the company got leaked to the media several years ago? The one where he said he expected the parking lot to be full from 7 to 7 and meetings should only be held before 8 a.m. and after 5 p.m. so they didn't interrupt work? Their name wouldn't be something like C*rn*r by any chance? I walked away from them too. They use Disney management techniques. Very goofy (pun intended). Dress code was business formal or "C*rn*r casual"... you had to buy their jeans and shirts from the company store with their logo on it. You were indoctrinated the first week by "trainers" who smiled like a bunch of Moonie recruiters who went over the company's 'values' and threw you a small Disney figurine when you got a verbal question right (sit boy sit... good dog). They are however, one of the biggest health care IT companies around and their software is used all over the place. I still wouldn't want to work for them though.

Re:Does that mean (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 7 years ago | (#19083239)

in some states a work place can not force you to buy shirts and other things need to for the job.

Re:Does that mean (2, Interesting)

TrippTDF (513419) | more than 7 years ago | (#19082151)

While your comment is funny, it's not a bad idea to Google a potential employer. I made the mistake of taking a job once without doing such, and I discovered the people that I was working for had quite a sorted professional and personal past that greatly effected how they managed the company. Working there was beyond awful, and had I done the Google search during the interview process, I would not have taken the job.

Re:Does that mean (4, Informative)

Aaron Denney (123626) | more than 7 years ago | (#19082489)

had quite a sorted professional and personal past


Sorted: all in order.
Sordid: dirty, immoral.

Re:Does that mean (4, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 7 years ago | (#19083393)

"Sorted: all in order.
Sordid: dirty, immoral."


Right, he sorted by professional, then personal past. Personally I would have sorted by good and evil, but everybody reads data differently.

Re:Does that mean (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19081563)

Hahahahaha, I hope this loooser is loaded because he's not going to land another job for 100 years with this work history!

Good luck wanker! :)

Re:Does that mean (1)

thorkyl (739500) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081707)

only if you are going to fire your boss...

Google searches BY JUDGES ruled ok, sort of (2, Informative)

ubuwalker31 (1009137) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081789)

When working for the government as a permanent employee, you are usually entitled to a full and fair hearing, with an attorney, before your boss, who is acting as a pseudo-judge (the deciding official). Thus, in order for the hearing to be fair, the deciding official must not go outside the bounds of admissible evidence when deciding the case. Remember, evidence of prior bad acts is generally inadmissible in court!

From the decision [emphasis mine]:

"No ex-parte communication occurred when the Deciding Official, Ms. Capell, discovered for herself that "in 1996, the Department of the Air Force removed the appellant from a civil service position and that in 1997, the Smithsonian Institution told [Mr. Mullins] to 'look for a new job.'" Indeed, the only "communication" that occurred was when Mr. Mullins communicated with Ms. Capell to bring to her attention the negative information about himself "by suggesting he had been subject to Board proceedings before." Ex-parte communications are procedural defects only when they cause prejudice that undermines due process guarantees. Because Mr. Mullins' two prior job losses did not affect Ms. Capell's decision to remove Mr. Mullins, the record shows no prejudice. Indeed, on April 22, 2005, before Ms. Capell discovered Mr. Mullins' two prior job losses, Mr. Grahl had already outlined 102 specifications to support the four charges of misuse and misconduct against Mr. Mullins."

it wasn't (5, Insightful)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081387)

So according to him it wasn't the 102 documented instances of misbehavior that were presented to him before the Googling that did him in. It was the Googling that confirmed his pattern of behavior that did him in...Give me a break, guy. Not to mention, with a resume like that, he's bound to be hired as CEO for some major pharmaceutical company or something...

Re:it wasn't (2, Funny)

crawling_chaos (23007) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081447)

Not to mention, with a resume like that, he's bound to be hired as CEO for some major pharmaceutical company or something...
Nah, with a resume like that he's got Administration Official written all over him.

Re:it wasn't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19081617)

At the State Department, at least. Probably could do much better working at the UN, however.

Re:it wasn't (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081651)

His next job should be NASA PR or a Scientific Advisor. Seems to be well qualified for that.

Re:it wasn't (1)

bhsurfer (539137) | more than 7 years ago | (#19082419)

I wouldn't be surprised if Wolfowitz's job at the World Bank is up for grabs soon, maybe he should look there. He seems to have what it takes. Of course, Ken Lay's would be a good one for someone like this if the position (and the company) hadn't been "eliminated" by people with similar ethical qualities.

Re:it wasn't (2, Funny)

neersign (956437) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081461)

I got about halfway through thinking that this guy was a politician...

Re:it wasn't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19081477)

It was a government job. I thought it took 150 negative things and a minium of five years of bad reviews before you can be fired. Maybe this guy needs to find a union job somewhere. I think you can only be fired from a union job if you kill two people while on the job and one of the two is another dues paying union member.

Re:it wasn't (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 7 years ago | (#19082223)

I was prepared to be sympathetic for the guy when I started reading the article but he ends up sounding like a childish jerk. He even uses the 4 yr old's favorite excuse, "But everyone else was doing it too!"

The thing I can't understand is why his employer, NOAA, had to use Google to find out about his past employement record. Isn't that sort of information shared between government agencies?

He won't get hired as a CEO, maybe as a junk bond investor though.

He could run for political office as a Democrat! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19082575)

This is textbook Democrat. Next thing, he'll be on 60 minutes, crying about how he was "owed" these things because of the terrible conditions he worked in. This guy needs to work in a tollbooth, or scrubbing dishes. Or serving fries at McDonald's. He apparently has the ability to talk his way into a good job, and then doesn't want to do the job when he gets there. It's typical of what Democrats crave to create in this society. They want a free lunch from the government. They want to rob from the rich to pay the disenfranchised.

He could run for political office as a*politician* (1)

DocSavage64109 (799754) | more than 7 years ago | (#19082911)

Are you really so partisan that you don't see any Republicans doing these things? Not that some Democrats may not be doing them too.

Google before hiring (4, Insightful)

stm2 (141831) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081413)

What about googling before hiring? Could be more efective.

Re:Google before hiring (1)

kalirion (728907) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081961)

I hope my future employers never do that. Someone decided to upload my undergraduate thesis to a public online repository, and to say I'm not proud of that thing would be an understatement.

Re:Google before hiring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19082485)

Do you hold the copyright on it? If so, you could always issue a DMCA takedown letter.

Re:Google before hiring (1)

veganboyjosh (896761) | more than 7 years ago | (#19082689)

link please?

Re:Google before hiring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19082023)

How about googling to check spelling? Could be more effective.

Re:Google before hiring (1)

digitrev (989335) | more than 7 years ago | (#19082215)

What about people like me, who are damn near invisible online? That's why I like having my last name be a 4 letter word which shows up in the dictionary as a noun, a verb, and is very similar to the last name of a few dozen famous people.

Employers usually do a search before hiring. (5, Insightful)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081421)

Does this decision give the green light for employers to start Googling their employees?

A lot of employers do a search before hiring. If not on Google then with ChoicePoint.

That's one of the reasons those Duke lacrosse players were fighting their charges so hard. One of their parents told Leslie Stahl on "60 Minutes" after claiming that this case would ruin their kids life, that in the future when they apply for a job, the employer will Google their kids name and this case will come right to the top.

That's one of the dark sides of the internet. If you get accused of a crime, it's all over the internet. And even if you're acquitted, charges dropped, or found innocent, you're now all over the internet, and people will see that and immediately assume the worst.

Yeah, the guy in TFA appears to have committed all of those acts, but what about folks falsely accused or in the wrong place at the wrong time?

What was it? Keep repeating a lie and it becomes true? Well, on the internet, it's donw automatically.

Re:Employers usually do a search before hiring. (4, Interesting)

Applekid (993327) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081573)

Hear hear.

And, when not hired for a job, do they EVER get told WHY exactly they weren't hired?

HR: "Sorry Mr. Jones, we didn't hire you because you murdered those children."
Candidate: "Oh, that again. I was AQUITTED, you know. The real killer CONFESSED and is currently serving time."
HR: *calls security*

No, they'd just get a happy little letter that they've declined to offer a job and will keep his information on file for x months blah blah blah.

It's all set to be the new discrimination. What used to be "we can't hire blacks, they'll steal from us!" now becomes "we can't hire people with any kind of bad press around them, they're obviously trouble!"

I wouldn't even be surprised if there were companies which specialize in revenge, where you can google bomb someone's name and associate it with something unpleasant for a fee.

Re:Employers usually do a search before hiring. (5, Insightful)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081739)

And, when not hired for a job, do they EVER get told WHY exactly they weren't hired?

You remind me of a friend of mine. in the late '90s when everyone, including him, was making great money, he was saving and investing - while his colleagues were buying BMWs and big houses.

When the bubble burst, he shrugged his shoulders, and took some time off - he was tired from working 60+ hours a week for years at a time. He had plenty of money saved so it wasn't any big deal. He did charity work, read, bummed around, got into shape, got a masters degree, etc....

When he started getting low on money, he tried to get a job again. Nothing.

He got feedback from two people - one indirectly and one directly.

The first guy just told a friend of his that if he was any good, he would never have been out of work. The second person, a doctor friend, just came out and asked, "Are you an alcoholic?"

The worst is ALWAYS assumed. And it's a sad thing with this society where the thought of somebody being good with their money and wanting to take time off every once in a while is actually a detriment to one's career. In a way, we are slaves to the corporate system. If you don't play the game correctly, you lose.

My friend is now doing menial work and trying to start a couple of businesses. He's actually happier overall. He does miss the 6 figure income, as do we all! Luckily, his wife is in medical.

Re:Employers usually do a search before hiring. (2, Interesting)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081957)

It's not hard to get around that, you just have to have that time accounted for on your resume. Basically, put on there that you did freelance work as webdesigner/charity event organizer/whatever. As long as you say you were doing *something* (even something you can't prove) you're usually fine. It's those long periods of no work that people assume one of 2 things:
1) He was in rehab/jail
2) We couldn't get a job because other employers know something we don't, we'll follow their lead.

Re:Employers usually do a search before hiring. (1)

waterford0069 (580760) | more than 7 years ago | (#19082447)

At which point... take anything (even if it's Geek Squad) to cover the hole and rebuild your career. It's always easier to get a new job when you are still in one (or just left another) - even if it is unrelated to what you really want to do. "I see here you were working for the local hardware store between 2000 and 2002. How does that fit in with your programming career?" "It doesn't... the startup I was working for went under in 2000 and I had to eat. However, while I was there I converted their accounting system over from a paper ledger to ... blah blah blah"

Re:Employers usually do a search before hiring. (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 7 years ago | (#19082091)

After the bubble burst, I traveled for two years, given similar situations.

To this day, I still get teased for going into the interview for the position I eventually accepted with dreadlocks, suit, and my general discomfort with wearing shoes. (Funny what flip flops on the beach for a couple years does to your tolerance of shoes.) While all the interviews I had originally set up might have had the impression that "What the hell was I thinking?", I got offers for seven of the eight positions I interviewed for.

I also do a pretty good job of protecting my online identity.

It is a little scary how partial information could obscure the real picture, but when you go in for an interview, most of that is a non-issue. It's important to know what might show up going in, though.

Maybe I should just count myself lucky for being named John Smith.

Re:Employers usually do a search before hiring. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19083261)

Not to knock your friend, but it sounds like he doesn't interview well. If he did interview well, it should have come out exactly what he was doing during his time off. That or he did document all that well enough on his CV/Resume. I mean, anything he did during his down time (masters program and charity work) should have been in there. It would have clearly spelled it out.

Again, I am not trying to knock your friend. I envy the fact that he set himself up well enough to be able to take that kind of time off. At the same time, any lapses in employment are things that need to be covered.

While I was just working as a bartender, I got fired from my last bartending job. It was during my last year in college. I always did my best to turn it into a positive. In interviews, when I was asked why I was unemployed for 6 months (after working all through college), I always said I was focusing on my school work my last semesters in school. My firing never would come up.

we're going back to the future (4, Interesting)

sethg (15187) | more than 7 years ago | (#19082019)

Once upon a time, just about everyone lived in small communities. You would expect to live, work, and die in the same little town where your parents and your close relatives lived. Once you got a reputation in such a community, deserved or undeserved, it would probably follow you for life.

Then we had the Industrial Revolution, big cities, relatively cheap transatlantic travel, etc., and all of a sudden it was possible--difficult, but possible--to make a clean break with your past and forge a new life. Many of the life-affecting judgements that were previously made by busybody neighbors were instead made by impersonal bureaucrats.

Now, all sorts of personal information about us online and searchable, and folks who grew up with the Net are less inhibited than their elders about putting more personal stuff online [nymag.com] . It looks like the Internet is putting us all in the same virtual small town. I don't think that's an entirely good thing, but I don't see how it can be prevented.

Re:we're going back to the future (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19082315)

"Once you got a reputation in such a community, deserved or undeserved, it would probably follow you for life."

Do they call me Shamus the bridge-builder? No.

But you fuck ONE goat...

Re:we're going back to the future (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19082431)

It looks like the Internet is putting us all in the same virtual small town. I don't think that's an entirely good thing, but I don't see how it can be prevented.

Always post as Anonymous Coward.

Re:Employers usually do a search before hiring. (3, Informative)

Bob-taro (996889) | more than 7 years ago | (#19082101)

I wouldn't even be surprised if there were companies which specialize in revenge, where you can google bomb someone's name and associate it with something unpleasant for a fee.
There is, I saw it on Dr. Phil. A woman had a website offering various services to get revenge on ex-boyfriends/ex-husbands. IIRC, putting damaging information about them (true or untrue) on the web was one of the tactics.

Re:Employers usually do a search before hiring. (4, Insightful)

pytheron (443963) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081641)

That's one of the dark sides of the internet. If you get accused of a crime, it's all over the internet. And even if you're acquitted, charges dropped, or found innocent, you're now all over the internet, and people will see that and immediately assume the worst.


Newspapers in the UK are just as bad. People get accused of something, and before they have gone to trial, their name is mud. Now, alot of the time when they are found innocent, or the paper had a case of mistaken identity, if they even bother to point this out, it's in the tiniest retraction wedged inbetween some columnist and the sports.

I think it would be fairer if they were forced to commit the same amount of coverage to the real outcome.


As long as people remember that popular opinion (which most tabloids come under) is not fact, then things aren't too bad. If a google search comes up with a trend of behaviour, don't take it as gospel but use this as a basis for a more thourough background check via more conventional means, e.g: contacting past employers.

Re:Employers usually do a search before hiring. (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081763)

There are two possible solutions to this:
  1. Change your name.
  2. Flood the Internet with bad information about everyone, so that *all* the job candidates a potential employer searches for have bad press.
I often wonder about people with non-unique names who are interviewed. When a potential employer googles "John Smith", does he just give up because there are too many hits, or does Mr. Smith become unemployable?

If the solution we decide upon is #2, then we need to start the flooding now. Any decent blog spam insertion software should be able to go through the phone book, and start entering names and misdeeds on a wide selection of blogs.

Re:Employers usually do a search before hiring. (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 7 years ago | (#19082065)

Hasn't this already happened to people who are on the "No Fly" list because they share a name with someone the authorities suspect (maybe rightly) of being a terrorist?

Re:Employers usually do a search before hiring. (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 7 years ago | (#19082139)

That is why Osama Bin Laden now goes by the name "Dick Cheney"

Re:Employers usually do a search before hiring. (1)

bahwi (43111) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081811)

Doesn't matter if it's true or not, there's always another applicant with a claner record. So what you were proven innocent, I can find another guy with no record at all.

Re:Employers usually do a search before hiring. (1)

marevan (846115) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081915)

Yes, employers propably do google the possible employee before hiring, but unless you've done (or been accused of) something grandiose, you should be safe.. unless you have very odd name that isn't common.

Now I live in Finland and my full name isn't that common. But as it just happens to be, there lives not one, but two guys who share my FULL name and live in the same part of country too. So if someone ought to google based on my name and location, they would find out that I've been a police chief and also have masters in CS, yay.

Criminal Identity Fraud (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 7 years ago | (#19082009)

http://g27radio.blogspot.com/2007/04/think-youre-s afe.html [blogspot.com]

That blog is written by a Slashdotter. He posted it in under an identity fraud article a while ago. I linked to his first post.

In short rather that someone stealing his identity to make money, someone stole his identity and used it when arrested. The victim has been turned down for job after job with no reason given. He found out when he was being harassed by the cops and decided to do a search for himself and found numerous warrants, DUIs, etc. Very depressing story considering he's now in his mid 30s and his life has been ruined by 'background checks' and it wasn't even him.

Re:Employers usually do a search before hiring. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19082075)

That's one of the dark sides of the internet. If you get accused of a crime, it's all over the internet. And even if you're acquitted, charges dropped, or found innocent, you're now all over the internet, and people will see that and immediately assume the worst.

I don't see why it's the internet. Traditional news media work the same way. They cover the initial story, but never follow up, leaving people with the wrong impression.

Re:Employers usually do a search before hiring. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19083069)

What about being fired after you have the job, and for posting comments on a blog about certain political issues, and yes i am a US Citizen, and was fired for posting comments on how the legal system does not treat everyone the same way. They googled found my site and read over it, then asked for badge and then terminated me 1 week later, no letter or explanation, just called and said we are terminating you at cause.

Wahhh! Wahhh! (3, Insightful)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081423)

I got caught and I don't like it. I want to be able to steal from my employer and rip the taxpayers off. Everyone does it so why should I be penalized?

Wahhh! Wahhh!

For as much as we rip government agencies for wasting money, three cheers for NOAA for tracking down this asshat and firing him.

The real question is, and one which is not answered in the article, are they going to get the money back from him?

From the article... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19081429)

Does this decision give the green light for employers to start Googling their employees? Possibly. It appears in this particular case that the search only played a tangential part to the overall, much more serious evidence against the employee. However, the judges' decision does seem to say that the Google search was no big deal, leaving the question of whether Capell's decision would have been different had the search been conducted before finding out about Mullins' other infractions unanswered.
I don't see this that way at all. This guy obviously should've been fired for the stuff he was doing. It's not like he was a model employee. In this case, the judge ruled that the search was irrelevant because the person responsible for firing him already had information showing he had falsified reimbursement paperwork and other infractions. Their own article even suggests the judge ruled this way because the plaintiff HIMSELF made comments to suggest he had trouble before.

I still think if you are fired based solely on a Google search, then you would have plenty of cause for complaint, but in this case it is completely irrelevant. This idiot was probably better off slinking away and looking for another job, then trying to fight this.

Optimist (2, Interesting)

Livius (318358) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081437)

If they found something about a different person who had the same name, he might have an outside chance of making a complaint.

But from the sounds of it, he should lay low and be thankful there aren't criminal charges. A Google search is no different from, say, searching newspaper clippings by hand. If reality is prejudicial to his employment, it's not his employer's fault.

This is bullshit (2, Insightful)

disasm (973689) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081441)

All this employee protection crap is bull shit. An employer should be able to hire/fire anyone they want without having to go through a bunch of red tape. Same thing with unemployment. There is no reason that an employer should ever have to continue to pay someone they fired because the person is too lazy to get off their butt and find a job. Come on, enough with employee rights, where are our employer rights... And don't get me started on the double taxation that happens with self employment tax. This country needs some serious reform in the way we run businesses. Citizens should be encouraged to start a business in something they enjoy, not discouraged with the threat of having to pay someone unemployment pay because they do a shitty job and you don't want them to work for you anymore.

So, back to the story, why is googling someone illegal? If I'm an employer, yes, I want to know what other employers have though of this person. There is no reason their should be any laws against researching the person you are hiring.

Sam

Re:This is bullshit (1)

disasm (973689) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081467)

I responded to quick. This is great! Not illegal really looks like not legal before a cup of coffee.

Sam

And yet... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19081509)

And yet, you're still a reactionary asshole.

Re:And yet... (2, Funny)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081619)

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Re:This is bullshit (2, Informative)

svendsen (1029716) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081677)

While I agree with the firing/hiting and double taxation I disagree with unemployment. My story:

Working for a company in the UK (only 40 people os nice and small), they partnered with a University in the states to develop software for phase 2 to 3 clinical drug trials. The University wanted someone on site to do business requirements, training, writing documentation, UAT, support and installation. I got the job. Pretty slick, own suite, at the customer site in an Academia settings 10 mins form where I lived.

So for the first year things are going ok, turns out sr. mgmt. had made lots of promises before I was hired and now the developers and I were taking flak for things we had zero control over. But still the directors of this part of the university where very impressed with me and told me so. We had a very strong working relationship.

Of course it blew up. What happened well some of my company's board of directors told the clients board of directors they were going to rewrite the contract, charge more, a few days before the contract was going to be signed. The customer was pissed. So pissed in fact that come last August the University said I could no longer continue the business requirements phase of the next project I was doing for the, (aka no talking to university employees about the project, anything else was fine). Again the customers board of directors, Scott your work is top notch, just your company's BOD has done a shitty thing, we are trying to work it out.

2 months later we get a new CEO who decides he doesn't want to enter this market and focus in on another area. So he tells the customer sorry the BOD dicked you over, we have to end this relationship, shut down the office and end of Nov. my job is done with one month of severance.

So lets recap so far I did an awesome job, personal references all the directors from one of the biggest academia reading centers for clinical drug trials, personal references from my company's BOD (though not all I wanted especially the ones that caused this shit storm), and yet for 0 fault of my own I have no job. Oh the people who caused this mess still have jobs.

So here I am trying to find a job during the holidays (ya good luck with that), well this turns into mid January no job. I finally get a job offer end of Jan. they want to know right away. I need a few more days for personal family issues, oops to bad rescinded the offer. WTF? Cause I have personal family issues you cant give me a few days? Shows I wasn't "serious" ...ya right.

Few more months pass, fiancé gets a job out of state I follow and now doing contract work. Have 4 months of where no money came in. Least there will be unemployment money to help me out to offset the cost.

Which is why when you do unemployment they ask you why you left your last job. If you get fired for incompetence, drug use, etc. it makes it a lot harder to get if any at all. If you are fired because you get a great job (again when you have personal references from all the directors most being very well published doctors) but your BOD fucked you over you get the money.

I'd have a nice big dent in my savings if it weren't for unemployment. Getting fired during the holidays isn't easy to find a new job everyone is on vacation. So tell me what else could I have done? Can't sure the BOD members who screwed up, can't sue the company for dicking me over, since I can't do that at least I have some assistance to fall back on.

Re:This is bullshit (1)

achbed (97139) | more than 7 years ago | (#19082093)

I've been through a similar situation recently (company got bought out and my office got closed down). The only thin I'd add to your comments is that I have to continue my old health insurance (COBRA), basically because if I ever want to get health insurance again in the US due to "previously existing condition" language in the insurance docs. Oh, and guess how much that costs? Approximately 75% of my unemployment benefits. So, I'm supposed to pay rent and live how? oh well, at least I've got insurance once I get hypothermia or something for sleeping outside...

And how much does the BOD and former upper management at my old company get? Let's just say they're not looking at sleeping on the streets.

That being said, I have no problem with a Google search (or Yahoo! or Ask.com, etc) being run on myself or any prospective or current employee. It's a search tool on currently available *public* information. It gives an idea of the type of things that person may be doing in their spare time, and sometimes identifies areas of concern (i.e., embellished resume?) If it's going to be used in court, or as the only source for hire/fire material, a follow-up offline search should be required in my mind (either by interviewing, or asking directly).

Re:This is bullshit (1)

svendsen (1029716) | more than 7 years ago | (#19082213)

I didn't go with Cobra took the gamble. No pre existing conditions for me so I was lucky. But ya I feel that pain.

And if you are a person who doesn't agree with unemployment then lower the taxes a lot first. My last pay check 33% want to taxes. So I work almost two days a week to pay taxes. Now if that was much lower I could save more and in down times wouldn't be as big of an issue

As for goolging I think it is fine. However what I wish is that any background search a company does on you they must:

a. Give you a copy of everything they find
b. Allow you to explain any of it, if it is true.
c. If they don't hire you because of something from B that is not to be true a way to be compensated from that company. The internet is full of truths and lies. You want to use it to judge me fine, but the flip side is if you judge me wrong you should have a consequence for such action.

Unemployment Tax (2, Informative)

dereference (875531) | more than 7 years ago | (#19083191)

And if you are a person who doesn't agree with unemployment then lower the taxes a lot first. My last pay check 33% want to taxes. So I work almost two days a week to pay taxes. Now if that was much lower I could save more and in down times wouldn't be as big of an issue
Just a quick clarification: In the US, unemployment taxes are paid exclusively by the employer; they are never deducted from the employee's pay. I realize that this may mean that employers simply pay you a slightly lower gross salary to off-set it, but it's definitely not part of the 33% (or whatever) you saw as a deduction from your check; it would be illegal for them to do so.

Re:This is bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19082541)

"and yet for 0 fault of my own I have no job."

This is one of those times in your life where you'll get advice that you hate, but that makes too much sense for you to ignore.

Based on your post, you clearly knew that things weren't going well long before you actually lost your job. A reasonable individual would have had a plan. So claiming that you had 0 fault while clearly admitting you failed to plan for something you knew was a strong possibility is a bit of BS.

And you know it.

Time factors (1)

Soulfader (527299) | more than 7 years ago | (#19082895)

Not necessarily. The last time I was laid off (from an IT support position), I suspected it was coming based solely on the volume of work that I was getting and subtle signs of belt-tightening in the company. I polished my resume, picked up a cert, and started applying. I was about to sit down and talk with my boss about my long-term prospects there when they called me in to a meeting to let me go. They felt bad; I can still go there five years later and pick up a free lunch and a lot of handshakes.

I started submitted resumes with a vengeance that night. Four months later, I was finally picked up for another support position nearby--it turned out to be the very first app I had submitted the day I was laid off.

The process sucks. It takes a long ass time for some companies to put together requirements, put out ads, and start really reviewing the resumes. They were in no particular rush, but it had a pretty profound impact on my life nonetheless.

Of course, in the mean time I had joined the National Guard, and after 7 months of contract work I went active duty for training and then deployed to Afghanistan. With small gaps, I have been full time in uniform ever since. The coffee is better and the people aren't so whiny.

Re:This is bullshit (1)

Jimmy King (828214) | more than 7 years ago | (#19083329)

I'm with you, I've been through a similar-ish situation. I was slowly working my way up the IT ranks and finally got a direct hire job (as opposed to all the contract work before) as a junior level software developer for a small company along with 2 more senior level guys. I was always being told how good of a job I was doing both for the quality of the work and speed with which I was getting it done.

5 months later I buy my first house. 1 after that? We all get laid off due to changes in the way the company wants to do business. I've got referrals from the COO, CTO, and Director of IT from this company. But you know what? I couldn't get a job anywhere. When I applied for development related jobs they didn't want me because I didn't have enough experience. When I applied for support related jobs they didn't want me because between my previous job experience and referrals, I was obviously overqualified.

Fortunately my ex-employer got their shit together and are my employer again (and appear to be much more stable this time). This was when I had 1 week left of unemployment. Without my unemployment to get me through that period, though, I would have been in a lot of trouble.

Re:This is bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19081727)

where are our employer rights
The problem with this is that it comes off as sounding like the rich who whine about "punitive" tax levels.

Re:This is bullshit (1)

Grashnak (1003791) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081817)

All this employee protection crap is bull shit. An employer should be able to hire/fire anyone they want without having to go through a bunch of red tape.
Its true. If those six year old kids didn't want to work in a coal mine, they should have started their own businesses. People should just be grateful that employers are kind enough to hire them, and if they don't like it, they can leave and find another job. Clearly business knows whats best for people. Just ask all those Enron employees how they're enjoying the benefits of the shares they were made to buy.

Re:This is bullshit (1)

t0rkm3 (666910) | more than 7 years ago | (#19083271)

One nit to pick.

They weren't forced to buy anything, they were encouraged to buy shares under the premise that they would make a lot of money.

They ignored the first rule of investing; if something is going to make you a lot of money very quickly, there's a shitload of risk hidden in there somewhere.

They got jacked by their own greed. A very common affliction during the dot-bomb era. Unfortunately, 'creative accounting' didn't die with the dot-coms so you have watch your ass even more carefully.

Re:This is bullshit (1)

Lockejaw (955650) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081845)

Since there are far fewer employers than employees, the employers are perceived as dominant in the labor market, and nobody really thinks they should need any special protection. I expect promoting small business will help fix this.

Re:This is bullshit (1)

inviolet (797804) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081949)

Same thing with unemployment. There is no reason that an employer should ever have to continue to pay someone they fired because the person is too lazy to get off their butt and find a job. Come on, enough with employee rights, where are our employer rights...

Your employer doesn't pay unemployment benefits; you do. As you work.

While it is indeed the employer that sends in the check every month to the unemployment fund, the money being sent was taken (one way or another) from your benefits, as a cost of hiring you. Same with Social Security [sic], Medicare, and prepaid^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hhealth insurance.

Re:This is bullshit (1)

Miseph (979059) | more than 7 years ago | (#19082141)

See, it's like this:

It used to be that employers had all the rights, but then they learned that they could get away with all sorts of nasty tricks that not only increase profitability but ALSO put their employees into a state of permanent poverty so that they couldn't afford to quit or unionize no matter how miserable or mistreated they were. Things like intentionally having more workers show up than will be needed and sending the rest home without pay in order to save time and effort on proper scheduling, or firing people without cause in order to avoid things like contractually granted benefits, or covertly monitoring employee friendships and terminating key employees whenever there seems to be a threat of union activity, or just firing a good employee because your idiot nephew thinks he can do it and you don't like the guy's nose.

In other words, we've realized as a society that employers don't need much legal protection because they're the guys with the money and power. Sorry if that makes it harder for you to just up and fire people, or if you think the only reason people don't work is that they don't want to (it couldn't possibly be because they can't find work, that's inconceivable), but you're much better able to hurt your employees than they are to hurt you, so they get the protections.

Hey, on the bright side, you could always cheer yourself up with a money bath! I know times are tough so it's hard to get enough hundreds, but you could always use fifties or even twenties if that's what it takes.

Re:This is bullshit (1)

BLQWME (791611) | more than 7 years ago | (#19082451)

You sir must, be own a business and think you are a fair individual. Without knowing you I can't say for sure. But I will tell you this, there are plenty of abusive employers out there and they have more rights than they deserve. So for our (employees) sake, shut up.

Re:This is bullshit (1)

BigDumbAnimal (532071) | more than 7 years ago | (#19082845)

If your employer sucks, find other work. Don't whine to the government about it.

Re:This is bullshit (2, Informative)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 7 years ago | (#19082849)

An employer should be able to hire/fire anyone they want without having to go through a bunch of red tape.
In most states in the United States, they can, other than for a specifically defined list of discriminatory reasons, such as race, gender, and age.

In other news ... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19081471)

... water is still wet. You can't claim ex parte on such public information. It's been tried and failed on newspaper archive searching more than fifty years ago. I'm guessing Mullins had little to challenge the claims made by his employeer or the information found so he's now pulling at straws.


Honestly nothing to see here ...

So what (4, Insightful)

packetmon (977047) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081495)

With all of the information people are throwing out there about themselves, they deserve to have it used against them in any shape form or fashion. If you want to be the moron who posts everything about yourself on YouTube, MySpace, Facebook and all those other sites, you have nothing but yourself to blame. They fired me for using drugs! If you're the moron with a picture of you happily holding a bong on MySpace and expected no one but friends to see it, you shot your own self in the foot. Its amazing the level of stupidity some people can get to then come back around and point the finger at everyone but themselves. On other notes... Information pertaining to just about anything on the planet is already readily available. Court records, financial information... All this misuse/abuse of information is made possible by the same people bitching who often turn their cheeks when future misuse in the making is present [com.com] . You didn't say nothing then... Why bother bitching now... YOU GAVE AWAY YOUR RIGHTS TO PRIVACY BY NOT ACTING BEFORE WHY BITCH ABOUT IT NOW?

Re:So what (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19081781)

You swear a lot and are verbally abusive. I think you may have rage issues. That is not the kind of person we want at our company.

We certainly can't hire you. Send him the rejection letter, Margret.

Re:So what (1)

techpawn (969834) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081829)

There's a reason so many of us hide behind fake pictures and psudonims online. It's because we don't want our activities online to reflect back on our lives else where. How many times have you signed up for something Bob Bobington?

Re:So what (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19082467)

Why can't you use John Smith like everyone else? He's a jerk anyway.

Sincerely,
Robert Bobson Bobington III

Score one for Justice (1)

kid_oliva (899189) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081499)

I am glad that this judge saw through this guy's bullshit. Some people just have no clue. This guy was wasting my tax dollars. I think we all should get to mete out some justice to him.

How does this line up with HR guidelines? (1)

faloi (738831) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081557)

I've always thought that some of the questions you're allowed to ask (more importantly, the ones you're not allowed to ask) when you call for references are a bit silly. The general rule seems to be that if the person was great at their job, you can talk them up. But if they were bad at their job, or did something outrageous that got them fired, about all you can say is that you wouldn't recommend them for rehire.

I don't know if that's because of some privacy laws, or whether that's just standard "don't send the lawyers after us!" protection. Either way it's struck me as silly, and with that in mind I'm not sure I'd point to search results (unless part of employee authorized criminal background check) as a reason for firing someone. In the same way that, if I happen to know someone that used to work with a "would not rehire" who gives me more scoop on the employee than the official mantra, I wouldn't divulge the receipt of more than "would not rehire" from a referred company.

Then again, I live in a right to work state, employers can fire people at any time for any reason...as long as it doesn't bump into EEOC guidelines. So we wouldn't need to provide a ream of documentation on firing someone (but it does help to have available).

Re:How does this line up with HR guidelines? (1)

beringreenbear (949867) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081857)

But if they were bad at their job, or did something outrageous that got them fired, about all you can say is that you wouldn't recommend them for rehire.

Yes, this is exactly the line you have to give. And it is for legal reasons. Unless you can point to publicly available documentation, even saying someone was bad at their job is a form of slander and the person begin slandered can sue.

Re:How does this line up with HR guidelines? (1)

Ash Vince (602485) | more than 7 years ago | (#19082403)

But if they were bad at their job, or did something outrageous that got them fired, about all you can say is that you wouldn't recommend them for rehire

The reason for this is usually libel laws. If you say the the person was crap at their job, and it costs them getting another one, you have to be able to prove what you have said in a court of law. Since most sane people want to stay as far away from court as possible, it is better to refuse a reference rather than risk giving a bad one.

Even if you think you have cast iron evidence that the person was crap, why would you want risk the hassle of a court case (let alone losing and having to pay them a small fortune) over some guy who you no longer have to put up with anyway? Giving someone a bad reference doesnt gain you anything except a headache. From a risk / reward perspective the choice is a no brainer.

Also worth noting is that most employers would take your refusal to give him a good reference as a sign that he was a thieving child molester anyway and turn him down sharpish.

Re:How does this line up with HR guidelines? (1)

rueger (210566) | more than 7 years ago | (#19082893)

I live in a right to work state, employers can fire people at any time for any reason...

Wow, I've never seen "Right Work" defined so simply before....

Anyhow, the norm in many jurisdictions is to give neither positive nor negative recommendations, only to confirm that a person had been employed, in what position, and for how long.

Although it's tempting to say "We'll only give a recommendation if it is positive, and say nothing if it's negative," you create a situation where not commenting implies that someone was a bad employee.

Better to remain neutral and say "We don't comment on past employees."

And if you're an ex-employee, ask a friend to call in for a recommendation and see what you get.

There are many David Mullinses (1)

Tom Womack (8005) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081627)

I can't be the only person whose reaction to the article is to google 'David Mullins', and discover that it's a reasonably common name, shared by the professor of housing policy at Birmingham University, the director of academic administration at Warwick, a 1991 Stanford math grad student, a London-based artist, and the ex-vice-chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

I think it's distinctly unprofessional for an organisation to record the fact that it fired someone in a document on the Google-accessible web, since having the fact available without the explanatory information that you'd get from asking the organisation for a reference might well be prejudicial to future employment for the person concerned.

Re:There are many David Mullinses (1)

rob1980 (941751) | more than 7 years ago | (#19082269)

I can't be the only person whose reaction to the article is to google 'David Mullins', and discover that it's a reasonably common name, shared by the professor of housing policy at Birmingham University, the director of academic administration at Warwick, a 1991 Stanford math grad student, a London-based artist, and the ex-vice-chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

If they found out via Google that somebody named David Mullins was fired from several jobs, they can easily go back to the guy's initial job application and/or resume and compare the employment history to what they came up with. If it matches not once but multiple times, then odds are strong that you've got the same guy.

Either way it's a moot point since they had already uncovered so many instances of misconduct; getting extra dirt on him which he may have omitted from his job application might have just been icing on the cake.

In other news... (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081643)

Google was able to add an extremely loud "Ahhh Shit!!!!" and "...but, Judge...!!??" to their new 'layered' sounds database, coincidentally matching the co-ordinates of the court house where the recent hearings took place...

That's how to get fired (4, Funny)

Oxygen99 (634999) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081653)

During this Google search, Capell found that Mullins had been fired from his previous job at the Smithsonian Institution and had been removed from Federal Service by the Air Force."

That's shocking. What sort of Draconian employment termination policies are in action here? Removed from federal service by the air force? Usually, I'd just have a quiet word to let the employee know their services are no longer required.

"Security, escort Mullins from the office. Yes, of course I mean with the F-16s..."

Google would get away with it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19081671)

They would just query against internal databases...

How is anything on the internet trustworthy? (2, Interesting)

zerofoo (262795) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081681)

I expected more from the slashdot community on this topic. Lots of posts suggest that if you put anything in a public space, you shouldn't expect privacy in your professional life.

Here is the problem; What if you didn't put the information out there? Remember the school principal who sued a bunch of students for putting up a fake myspace page? What would you say if the board of education fired this guy because of the content on the page?

I've seen some great "photoshopped" pictures that were very believable. Would you like an HR person to make an employment decision about you based on a fake picture or a malicious blog entry?

Employers, much like students doing research, should only use verifiable authoritative sources for personnel information. The internet (most of it) falls very short of this standard.

-ted

Re:How is anything on the internet trustworthy? (1)

svendsen (1029716) | more than 7 years ago | (#19082081)

I just googled myself and here is what I found:

1. Usenet postings of me asking for help with perl 5.0, Zope 1.0beta, and a few other linux questions back around 2001. Ok I knew about those.

2. A webpage showing I was a quality tester for the game Prey, now my name is just listed as a quality play tester, but I had no clue it was up there. Now of course I knew being a play tester my name would be in the manual which pretty much guaranteed my name on some webpage. But this was new to me as of today.

And what if he had been these play testers where horrible to work with, did a bad job (though in this case I volunteered for a friend who works for that company), etc. how would that reflect one me?

Re:How is anything on the internet trustworthy? (1)

cmat (152027) | more than 7 years ago | (#19082887)

Agreed. While searching for information on employees/employers via the internet is a boon to both sides, in a court of law this information must necessarily be backed up by verifyable sources (i.e. in this case his previous employers must be willing to make an official statement on the reasons for his dismissal). The same rules for regular research on the net apply: use it to broaden your awareness, but not to prove your point.

Government jobs (1)

jonasmit (560153) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081697)

Would this even be an issue if it wasn't a government job?

Re:Government jobs (3, Informative)

Lijemo (740145) | more than 7 years ago | (#19082233)

The (very specific) regulation he claimed was violated applied only to government jobs, not to private sector. So no, it clearly wouldn't have.

Would a Federal file search be OK then? (1)

ericferris (1087061) | more than 7 years ago | (#19081917)

So lemme get this straight. The employee objects to the Googling that reveals his past problems with another Federal agency.

That Google search probabky took 5 minutes and actually saved the taxpayers money. Had the Air Force archive not been available on the Web, Mullins's employer would have issued the proper redtape-littered procedure to unearth Mullins's file from Federal archives. Such a thing involves weeks, if not months, of inter-agency sleuthing, and ends up costing a pretty penny. For the taxpayer, of course.

But such a search would have been so much more official, so much less oh-noes-high-tech-got-me, so Mullins would not have objected, right?

The Pentagon is a public employer. Its agents are susceptible to public scrutiny when it comes to how their salary is justified. As such, it's normal that its employment archives are conveniently available. Don't like it and still want to be a Federal employee? Get a Masters in maths and get hired by the NSA. They don't plaster the web with their employment records, for some reason.

Otherwise, get into the private sector and deal with the longer hours and the sucky retirement and heath plans, like the rest of us.

Kudos to the Weather Forecast Office in Indiana for getting rid of cheating, lying, dishonest employees.

YOU FAI:L IT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19081993)

ThesE rules will [goat.cx]

Why be fair in hiring and firing? Plenty of illega (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19082435)

to take your place. . .

I knew it. (1)

Fuzzums (250400) | more than 7 years ago | (#19082713)

1. If it's on the internet, it's true.
2. If it's NOT in the internet however, it doesn't exist.

Now this guy should fear Google searches (1)

dont_run (1050730) | more than 7 years ago | (#19082953)

A Google search now will bring a lot more results for "David Mullins", won't it? This guy should not have sued. Now he's that much more famous, and for the wrong reasons. Good luck finding a job now, pal. And pay your lawyers.

Soo .. what your saying is .. (1)

RembrandtX (240864) | more than 7 years ago | (#19083077)

Employee is a terminal fuckup. Discharged from Air Force. Stealing from employer and got caught. Why am I not surprised that he isn't smart enough to just take his licks and let it lay low ?

I mean .. if this guy has been falsifying T&E reports and got caught .. thats fraud brother .. over $250 its a felony. Is this REALLY the button he wants to be pushing ?

Meh ..

Sounds to me like someone got caught and is trying for a sympathy play.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?