11/24/2008 Update: dead link (below) replaced with different link.  Also, plaintiff’s concerns about the damage to her reputation seem legitimate, as I recently discovered (hat tip to Sharon Nelson): On September 10th, CareerBuilder.com published the results of a survey that found one in five employers screen their job candidates online, double the amount of employers using social networking sites in 2006. Of the employers that used the sites, 34% dismissed the candidate after what they saw. The main concerns of the employer were candidates posting information about drinking or drugs, posting provocative information or photos, poor communication skills, and lying about qualifications. Conversely, 24% found that the social networking site solidified their desire to hire a person. Factors that made an employer hire a potential candidate were a background supporting the candidate’s qualifications, proof that they had good communication skills, and evidence that the candidate was a good fit for the office culture.

A DWI defendant in Nassau County. NY has sued, demanding that her name and photograph posted to the County’s Web page –dubbed “Wall of Shame”– be removed. Read story.  Defendant’s claim is based primarily on the prospective harm caused when potential employers and others find her name and photo on the Web.  Her attorney argues that publication to the “Wall of Shame” of persons who have not yet been found guilty of a crime is a form of punishment, noting “I don’t think you need a law degree to understand that this fundamentally goes against a system of justice in which punishment occurs after you’ve been found guilty.”

Last month, another woman sued the county over publication.  She had lapsed into a hypoglycemic shock1 and was subsequently arrested for DWI.

1 As I have witnessed first-hand, a person experiencing
hypoglycemia, when his or her blood sugar is too low, can appear to be drunk. They may sweat, talk confused, become disoriented, stumble, lose their bearings, become aggressive, even “ornery,” belligerent or pass out.