December 29, 2018

Negative comments or social media posts can have a significant impact on a person’s career path, and understanding how to protect yourself is critical, Toronto employment lawyer Amelia Phillips tells

“We’re starting to see how important the online space is for people’s reputations and their livelihoods,” says Phillips.

“Outside of your resume and, perhaps, references, employers do not usually know anything about you. Search engines are where they can get a first impression of you,” she says. “It can be extremely damaging when another person posts comments about you or your business online that are untrue or defamatory. And often, it’s very difficult to correct.”

Phillips points out that online reputation has become such a concern that the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada addressed it in a paper earlier this year.

Companies that deal with this issue head-on have also sprouted up, she says, noting they vet what’s out there, perform a diagnosis of the problem and suggest a course of action to address it.

“I’ve had conversations with folks who have had something posted about them when they were in their early 20s, and it’s still online when their names are searched decades later. At this point, they’re professionals in their 40s and have accomplished so much, but that stain is still there. I’ve had a client that wanted to change their name entirely because of it,” Phillips says.

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