In The News

James Crumlin Talks to Borrowman Baker on Reference Checks

Reference Checks: Keeping Them Legal

By John Borrowman, CPC
Borrowman Baker, LLC, BV Staffing + Consulting
Gallatin, TN

Interviewee: James Crumlin
Bone McAllester Norton
Nashville, TN

Business valuation is such a small world. If the candidate that you're considering used to work for someone you know, it's tempting to consider that person a reference you can casually call for the "inside scoop."

And, why not?

For the answer to that question, we sat down with James Crumlin, Partner in the Nashville law firm of Bone McAllester Norton. James specializes in the area of employment law.

Read the entire interview here.

Two Attorneys Named to the Best Lawyers in America 2013 “Lawyers of the Year"

Attorneys who make the list of “Lawyers of the Year” are selected based on peer-review surveys in which tens of thousands of leading lawyers confidentially evaluate their professional peers.  Best Lawyers® lists have earned the respect of the profession, the media, and the public, as reliable and unbiased for over 30 years.

The Bone McAllester Norton attorneys named on the list include:
    • Larry W. Bridgesmith has over 30 years of legal experience in dispute resolution and innovative workplace strategies to clients, students and business entities alike. He has provided trial counsel in jury trial defense verdicts and the successful defense of class actions. He is President of Creative Collaborations LLC, and he serves as the Senior Fellow and Associate Professor at the Institute for Conflict Resolution which he founded as Executive Director at Lipscomb University. At the request of the American Bar Association Dispute Resolution Section, he serves as co-chair for the Task Force on Dispute Resolution in Health Care and the International Committee’s Global Dispute Resolution Collaboration Task Force.
    • Anne C. Martin concentrates her practice in the areas of commercial litigation and employment law, representing both employers and employees.  She is currently Secretary of the Board of First Steps.  In the past, Ms. Martin has served as a volunteer and board member for a number of civic organizations including the American Red Cross Board for the Tennessee Valley Chapter, Interfaith Dental Clinic, and Community Nashville, as well as the Davidson County Juvenile Court Foster Care Review Board.  She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Smith College in 1989 and her Juris Doctor from Vanderbilt University Law School in 1992.
            The Best Lawyers In America list for 2013 includes attorneys covering all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and inclusion in this year’s publication is based on more than 4.3 million detailed evaluations of lawyers by other lawyers. Lawyers are not permitted to pay any fee to participate in or be included on the lists.

Anne Martin Speaks at Employment Law Seminar

Anne Martin spoke at the 2012 Employment Law Seminar sponsored by the Tennessee Human Rights Commission and Department of Human Resources.  Anne participated in a panel discussion regarding mediation in employment law disputes.  The conference was attended by over 100 human resource professionals and employment law attorneys.

Attorney Anne Martin speaks at Society for Human Resource Management Conference

Anne Martin spoke at the 2012 SHRM Tennessee Employment Law & Legislative Conference on May 18, 2012. Anne led one of the conference sessions titled “The ABC’s of Leave and Disability Issues.” Anne also participated with other speakers in a discussion regarding the latest trends in employment law

and to answer questions of conference attendees. The conference was attended by over 300 human resource professionals and employment law attorneys.

Can that post get me fired? The Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media and Employment Law

Join us for our interactive panel to learn about common concerns with Employment Law, Human Resources and  Social Media.


Friday, September 16th 8 am-9:30 am

Complimentary breakfast at 8 am

Panel begins promptly at 8:30 am



Nashville City Center

511 Union Street, Suite 1600

Our speakers include Employment Law attorneys James Crumlin and Keith Dennen of Bone McAllester Norton, along with Lynn Hutson, the Director of Human Resource Services at XMi. We look forward to educating you on the impact of  social media on all aspects of employment law and will leave you with some ideas to protect you and your employees.

James Crumlin speaks on Social Media and Background Checks.

Social Media Background Checks: A Slippery Slope


By John Borrowman, CPC
Borrowman Baker, LLC, BV Staffing + Consulting
Houston, TX


Interviewee: James Crumlin
Bone, McAllester, Norton
Nashville, TN

Understandably, employers want to get as much information as they can about a candidate. And the Internet makes it easy to use sites like Facebook to do a "social media background check." Taking that approach can be more complicated than it sounds, however.

For a more nuanced view, we turned to James Crumlin, a Partner in the Nashville law firm of Bone, McAllester, Norton. James specializes in the area of employment law.

Borrowman: It almost seems like a no-brainer for an employer to do a social media background check on its candidates. What could be wrong with that?


Crumlin: Well, there's nothing wrong if that process follows the same rules as any other background check. It's in the nature of a social media background check, though, that it can invite employers to look at information that may not be relevant to job performance. For example, your candidate may have posted vacation pictures that may not be very tasteful. But, are those pictures really relevant to whether the person can do the job he's being considered for? Or, is it simply unflattering information?

Borrowman: Is the process of drawing that line any different than drawing the line when it comes to non-work related information gathered in a standard background check?

Crumlin: Not really. You just need to make sure you're not using the social media background check to do something you couldn't do otherwise. In a social media background check, for example, you might find reference to a person's religion, race, marital status, disability or other information that is protected under Federal employment laws. When you're interviewing a candidate, you're not supposed to inquire about any of that information.

As with any other background check, the candidate must consent to the social media background check and be notified of any adverse information that is found. There are companies that do this kind of background check. The FTC has determined that they are compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which governs other forms of background checking.

Borrowman: Fundamentally then, things that you can't ask in an interview, you can't do research on in a social media background check.

Crumlin: Right.

Borrowman: So, why would you go looking at social media sites? Is there likely to be anything there that is truly relevant? Crumlin: It depends. You might not want a candidate who has a history of talking about former employers and bosses in a defamatory way on a social media site. People do weird things with social media. They think they can say anything. If the candidate is bragging about having a few drinks at lunch and then going back to work, that would be information that might be relevant to the hiring decision.

Borrowman: And that's where a social media background check becomes a slippery slope? Crumlin: That's right. It complicates things because you have to wonder whether or not the information that you find is relevant to job performance. If the information is not relevant to job performance and if you use that information, do you violate Federal laws?

I would always recommend that the employer stick to the essentials of the job; that they stick to the job requirements. If the employer learns something that appears contrary to information provided during an interview, there can still be a question about whether the information is job-related.

Borrowman: Can you give an example?

Crumlin: You could be in a situation where the job requires the candidate to do a lot of travel. The candidate says travel is fine. In the interview, you can't ask questions about family. In the social media background check, though, you discover photos of a wife and young kids. If the decision not to hire is based on that information, the employer could be in trouble.

Borrowman: How would an employer handle that new information? You shouldn't ignore it. But, you can't ask about it.

Crumlin: No, you can't use the social media background check to learn information that you can't learn in interviewing or other background checks. You have to look to his qualifications, to see whether he traveled in a previous position. You could ask references whether the candidate ever had problems with the travel requirements of the job. That's about as close as you can get.

Borrowman: Do you have any "bottom-line" recommendations about doing a social media background check?

Crumlin: One thing employers should not do is take a casual approach to using social media background check as a quasi-background check. They should not (and should not allow their employees to) think "I'll just go on Facebook and see what I can find out."

If you're going to use this process, you need to have it as a formal part of the hiring process. You need to treat it just like you would any other background check that the company does. You should notify the candidate that you are doing the background check, have them consent to it, and also inform them of any adverse information you find. If it leads to a decision not to hire, you have to explain that, too. All the while, you have to make sure you're in compliance with Federal employment laws in conducting these background checks.