Pathmark Massacre Wants a Law to Require Employers to Do Social Media Background Check on Employees – Is This Necessary? [POLL]
Nothing will mitigate the loss the LoBrutto family feels after having dealt with the shock of the August 31st slaying of their daughter Cristina at the hands of deranged gunman and fellow Pathmark employee Terence Tyler.
Immediately after the shooting, it was revealed that the gunman had posted a series of disturbing tweets on his Twitter account threatening violence.
It’s for that reason that the LoBrutto family is starting a petition to enact legislation dubbed “Cristina’s Law”, which would require employers to check the social media history of prospective employees before hiring them.
Were that type of background check in place, perhaps another massacre like the one their daughter fell victim to could be avoided.
Actually the proposal was made some months ago, about which I blogged, and felt at the time that it runs counter to proposed state and federal legislation that would ban employers from requiring prospective or current employees from disclosing user names, passwords or other means of accessing online accounts, or even asking if the potential hire has such an account.
Less than a year after a teenage girl was gunned down in Old Bridge, her family took part in a gun violence prevention discussion that was held at the Old Bridge municipal complex on March 27.
Maria LoBrutto, an Old Bridge resident whose daughter, Cristina, 18, was one of two Pathmark employees shot and killed by a co-worker on Aug. 31, 2012, at the Route 9, Old Bridge, supermarket, was on hand with her daughter, Michelle, to advocate the passage of Cristina’s Law.
The proposal, if signed into law following passage in the state Legislature, would require employers to screen a job candidate’s social media sites before hiring an individual.
On Aug. 31, Pathmark employee Terence Tyler, 23, a former Marine, left the night shift at the store at about 3:30 a.m. and later returned wearing military-issue desert camouflage and armed with an assault-style rifle and two other weapons.
He entered the store and fired randomly at the other workers, killing LoBrutto and Bryan Breen, 24, also of Old Bridge, according to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office. Tyler then took his own life.
During their investigation, authorities discovered that Tyler had posted several comments online empathizing with mass murderers and threatening violence.
“The lunatic’s intentions were clear and published in a very open and unambiguous way. On Aug. 31, 2012, he simply followed through,” the LoBrutto family wrote in a letter to the New Jersey Legislature.
Cristina’s Law would require a business operator to screen a prospective employee’s social media history during the background check process.
Old Bridge Mayor Owen Henry expressed his support for Cristina’s Law, which has yet to be introduced in the Legislature.
“Cristina’s Law, I think, is an excellent piece of legislation,” Henry said. “We are not trying to be Big Brother, but we are looking to identify people who are calling out for help.”
About 2,700 people have signed an online petition advocating the passage of Cristina’s Law.
Henry said “I believe we have an obligation in society to find out what people’s intentions are,”.
“If they are posting on social media that they wish evil upon others, then as a society we need to react to that. He [Tyler] was able to broadcast on social media that he had ill intentions, that he wanted to kill his co-workers, and yet he was able to get a job here in Old Bridge. … He was able to inflict unspeakable horror and unspeakable pain, which reached out to the entire community.”
According to Henry, the law would cost employers about $30 per social media screen.
“This is similar technology to what the New York Police Department is using now to look for information. This identifies the people who are calling out for help,” the mayor said.
The LoBrutto family’s letter to state legislators concludes with the statement, “Had this employer [Pathmark] simply performed a background check that included a basic review of its prospective employee’s social networking sites, it would have easily learned that this individual made direct threats against those with whom he worked or would work. On Aug. 31, that person was Cristina LoBrutto.”
The petition for Cristina’s Law can be found at www.change.org.
It seems to me that employers have at their disposal quite a few means to determine whether or not to hire someone without delving into the realm of social media.
In a previous article, the president of the school board, Eugene Donofrio said that people who fear that the proposed law has onerous overtones are naïve about the reach of cyberspace. With nearly every post instantaneously public, privacy is mostly an illusion, he said.
“If I have 1,500 followers and post about myself, obviously I’m going to get attention,” he said. “You’re not invading somebody’s privacy.”
However, I'd disagree.
One has to wonder if the employee is required to hand over his or her social media info what the potential for abuse would be on the part of anyone having that information.