From time to time, we’ll present you with a question submitted by a TechRepublic member. We’ll select an answer from those sent to us by our readers and award a $25 Fatbrain gift certificate to the person who submits the best solution. Let’s begin with the winning answer for our April 3 question.
Background checks
A TechRepublic member, who asked that we not use her name, is in the process of hiring an IT Manager and wondered what she was allowed to ask past employers about a prospective candidate’s work history. She wanted to know what is considered off-limits.

The solution
Our winning answer came from Allen Salomon. He wrote:

“The legalities of checking on a potential employee’s previous performance and work history are limited mostly by what a previous employer can and cannot say. Asking a former employer up-front questions concerning the candidate’s performance and employment relations is fine.

Responses obviously meant merely to disparage the former employee’s reputation and thus hinder their ability to find employment are illegal. Factual statements, whether complimentary or not, are legal.

Since there is a vague area between the two, many companies maintain a policy that prohibits any information about a previous employee, other than starting and ending dates of employment, from being discussed.

It would be wise to confirm any negative comments originating from a single contact source if possible, and it would certainly be unwise to repeat any questionable comments to the prospective employee.”

Linux for financial services
We pulled our next question from TechRepublic’s Forums section, which offers members answers to e-commerce questions. We thought that with the growing interest in Linux, someone would be able to quickly offer an answer.

TechRepublic member Tommy Fu, vice president of interactive development for, asked: “Does anyone know of any implementations of Linux for financial services sites for online trading, banking, etc.? How much have people embraced Linux and other open source technologies (PHP, Apache, CVS, etc.) in financial services?”

Do you have an answer?
Do you know a financial services site that is using Linux? Post a comment at the bottom of the page, or send an e-mail to the CIORepublic editor. All answers must be received no later than Monday, May 8, 2000. If your answer is chosen as the best one, you’ll receive a $25 gift certificate to Fatbrain.
By submitting your answer, you agree to let TechRepublic publish your solution on its Web site. You also agree that TechRepublic may adapt and edit and authorize the adaptation and editing of each submission as it deems necessary. TechRepublic may publish a submission at its sole discretion.