Daily Digest: Binge drinking, Employers + Facebook

by Taryn Wobbema

Here’s your Daily Digest for Tuesday, March 20:

Binge drinking costs half a million dollars in emergency room visits each year at the average large university (40,000+ students), researchers at UW-Madison say. It’s based on ER visits involving blackout-related incidents. The study surveyed almost 1,000 students labeled “problem drinkers,” and about half said they had experienced a blackout caused by alcohol in the year before the study. In the two years the study went on, 30 percent of the men and 27 percent of the women visited the ER at least once, MSNBC.com reported. Some had major injuries – broken bones or head or brain trauma. Based on the average cost of ambulance-assisted visits to the ER, the researchers calculated that blackouts cost $469,000 to $546,000 each year at the average large university.

Some employers have started asking applicants to hand over their Facebook username and password so they can take a look at the candidate's social media activity, the AP reported. It’s not uncommon for public pages to get perused when companies are considering candidates, but some have questioned the legality of requiring a potential employee to allow access to a private page. For those desperate for a job, there might not be an option to refuse. Law professor Orin Kerr of George Washington University said, “It’s akin to requiring someone’s house keys.” The practice is prevalent among public agencies like law enforcement. In some cases, it’s a way to get to know the candidate more to see if there’s anything undesirable. In others, it’s a way to enforce policies that forbid employees from talking badly about a company. E. Chandlee Bryan, a career coach, told the AP that all job-seekers should assume that a potential employer can see his/her social media sites. She said employers asking for log-ins is troubling, but it’s less so if they ask to do so through a friend request.