Monster.com Restrictions Anger Customers
Monday, April 28th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
NEW YORK (AP) _ Monster.com says it is only trying to follow the rules.
But the nation's largest Internet job board is taking heat from some users over a new policy blocking consumers or employers from seeking work or posting jobs in countries sanctioned by the U.S. government.
Under the policy, which took effect Thursday, Monster will no longer allow posting of resumes or job openings originating from Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Myanmar, North Korea, Sudan or Syria.
In an e-mail explaining the change, Monster last week told consumers whose resumes include a reference to one of the countries that ``your resume will be altered, removing all the sanctioned countries from your resume.''
A spokesman for Monster, which is owned by New York-based TMP Worldwide, said Friday the policy affects ``a few thousand'' of the 26 million resumes posted on its site.
In some cases, the company has deleted resumes that list current addresses in those countries. It has altered other resumes so that they no longer list those countries as targets for employment or the location of jobseekers' education.
The change resulted from an internal review by company lawyers to comply with sanctions set out by the U.S. Department of Treasury, Monster said.
``It's simply following the U.S. regulations in terms of companies and individuals prohibited from providing certain services to certain countries,'' Monster spokesman Kevin Mullins said.
The change has angered some Monster users, who say the policy censors and discriminates against people including immigrants wotj ties to some of the countries in question or businesses seeking to recruit there.
``It bothers me professionally and personally,'' said Dokhi Fassihian, who was born in Iran and moved to the U.S. with her family when she was three. Fassihian, a policy analyst specializing in Middle Eastern affairs, said the resume she posted on Monster uses the word ``Iran'' 35 times.
``How can you be an Iran expert if you can't work there ... or do research there. And what Monster is saying is that that country doesn't matter. It doesn't exist for us,'' said Fassihian, of Arlington, Va.
Another Monster user who received the notice, Jeffrey Obser of Oakland, Calif., said the policy smacks of censorship.
``It just struck me as being absurd and rather totalitarian,'' said Obser, a free-lance journalist whose Monster resume listed Syria as one of the countries where he sought work.
Monster said its policy was being misunderstood.
``Much of the criticism out there that I've heard is that we're censoring people,'' Mullins said. ``We would never remove words from profiles or alter the actual content of resumes.''
Monster eliminated the sanctioned countries from drop-down menus jobseekers use to list their current address, target job location, and location where they obtained their education.
But the company said Friday that, after receiving complaints, it had re-examined its technology and beginning next week would allow the countries specified to be listed in the education entry.
A spokesman for the U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Control Assets, or OFAC, said the agency had not directed Monster to make the changes.
Officials have not determined whether the company's action were correct, except to note that limiting where a jobseeker obtained an education appears to overstep the rules.
``OFAC regulations do not govern speech. OFAC regulations govern transactions,'' the spokesman, Taylor Griffin said.