LinkedIn and Recommendations and Lawsuits, Oh My!

A post over on got my dander up, so I thought I’d deal with it more fully here…

Can you get in legal trouble over a recommendation?


And by absolutely, I mean that anyone can sue anyone else over any matter at nearly any time – so of course one has to be aware of the consequences of taking any action.

Do I think you have to be terribly worried about it?  Probably not.

The post that wants you to be worried…

To set this up properly, I’ve got to let you read the original post titled “Beware the legal liability in lauding others on LinkedIn

Demarco’s suggestion is that when supervisor A puts a recommendation up on individual B’s LinkedIn profile and then company C lets B go, B will use that as evidence that C’s action was wrongful.

How many facets does this violate?

Longtime readers will be thinking this through already…

Connecting philosophy – let’s start here because it’s always got to be in the front of your mind.  If any supervisor and subordinate connect on LinkedIn, it’s got to be because they know and trust each other.

(sidebar – rereading the article, it doesn’t suggest that the endorsement has to come from a supervisor, but outside of a supervisor and upper manager (which counts as supervision in my world), an endorsement from anyone else just doesn’t carry any real “corporate” weight)

So yes, I can see something happening that would require a manager to downsize a trusted employee, I doubt that would happen wrongfully enough to support a legal action. (second sidebar – I’m not a layer, work in a state that says employers and employees can separate at any time for any or no reason at all, and do not intend to offer legal advice – so if you do work somewhere with stringent legal requirements you probably already know what you should or shouldn’t do;-)

But it seems to me that two individuals that know each other well enough to connect ought to have a good relationship, treat each other well, and are much less likely to sue each other…

Recommendation philosophy

Moving on to knowing each other well enough to make a recommendation – if a supervisor is going to write something good about an individual, it ought to be because the individual is good.

The article on examiner suggests that a recommendation might be given out to “help” the employee but may not otherwise be deserved.

And that’s just a bad philosophy – when you recommend someone, recommend them for a good reason!

Connecting and giving recommendations to marginal individuals

So – if you avoid these two things – connecting to people you don’t know & trust and recommending marginal acquaintances, I think you’ll be in pretty good shape.

Anyone could get laid off

So – in spite of a great relationship and superior work by an individual, company success (or lack of) could require a downsizing action.

And that doesn’t mean anyone did anything wrong.

I’d think that a good relationship with a former superior and a notable recommendation would be helpful in the aftermath – so if you can do so confidently, go ahead.

But let’s all back away from thinking that any one data point like a recommendation means a company acted wrongly. Unless things were really crooked in that decision, it’s better to move on than sue the other guy…


I’ve heard of strict corporate policies with regards to sites like LinkedIn – and I’m sure those companies are just looking to cover their behinds.

If a company wanted to ask managers to not recommend individuals they currently supervise, that would be a reasonable request.

One thing to remember – a company policy no longer has any effect when you are no longer at the company…-)

A bit of hype

So, the thing to do is to avoid connecting to people that you don’t know and trust. And after that – only recommend people that are worthy of your recommendation.

That should keep you on the right side of things;-)

To your continued success,

Steven Tylock


  1. Hi Steven,

    You are absolutely right that some people are taking anything in front of a judge and what LinkedIn created was a professional network – not a way to turn a trusted business contact into a back stabber.

    Last week I got two invitation rejected from business partners who said that their company policy did not allow them to participate in any social or professional networking activities on their work equipment. What I informed them about is that 1,300 of their colleagues were on LinkedIn most likely using their home computers. I have difficulties understanding a dictator approach on something that works both ways = keep an eye on your staff and find new employees when one of them takes the exit strategy.

  2. Martin,

    Sigh – LinkedIn is not Facebook – it ought to be a required application for salespeople!

    On the other hand, let’s hope your associates did use their home systems and connect – they should not handicap themselves because $Work has an unhelpful policy. [And let’s hope they tie both their work email addresses and their personal address to their account so they don’t end up with two – ‘eh?-] ( )


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