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The Unintended Negative Consequences to The Process and the People

A court proceeding that is ranked highly on any search engine creates damaging effects on anyone who is named in the case and subsequently cheapens the whole judicial system. Research indicates that anyone performing an Internet search will gravitate to the top four results found to make a determination. There is also a dangerous misperception about the relevance of the information queried. People tend to believe that there must be an important personal association or prevalence to any information that gets pulled to the top of a search engine query. What this means is that anyone who may have a single court proceeding or minor offense would likely appear at the top of a search engine query and end up viewed wrongly as someone who is in a lot of legal trouble or someone who has a reputation for being overly litigious.
An example could be that a highly qualified person applies for a new position with an employer who chooses to perform a Google search in order to learn more about the applicant. Lets say that this potential employee has been involved in a discrimination lawsuit with a previous employer and that information shows up at the top of the search engine results. While it is true that the prospective employer cannot legally discriminate against the applicant on the basis of the legal information found, the search makes the applicant appear to be a troublemaker. It is likely that the employer will use that information to determine that the person is not suitable for hire but will make up a reason why the position is not a good fit rather than address the negative legal information directly with the applicant.

Damage to the person who exercised a legal right are speculative in nature when someone wanting more information about him or her performs a Google search. This means that the applicant may suspect the reason behind not being hired but can not prove that point since the potential employer provided a different, believable reason for not offering the position. It becomes almost impossible to prove that misleading information on a Google search created in roadblock to employment opportunities.

In the end the only possible recourse could be a claim by the applicant citing emotional distress when the Google search performed revealed misleading personal information. It is extremely difficult to legally prove that type of emotional distress, leaving little room for any kind of legal recourse.

The even more distressing result of the prominent placement phenomenon is that individuals will choose to remain silent rather than exercise the right to take legal action. For example, if a person learns that taking legal action about sexual harassment in the workplace will end up placing them at high risk for a damaged professional reputation then that person is much less likely to take action when necessary.

As more people share stories of being publically shamed by lawsuits that end up at the top of their Google profile many more will choose to back away from legal options in order to preserve their own reputation. This process encourages misconduct leaving the perpetrators of ugly acts without consequence and is not something that will promote legal justice in the long run.

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