Author: Beth P. Zoller, XpertHR Legal Editor
There is a growing trend among federal and state legislatures to pass legislation dealing with social media privacy and password protection. In 2012, legislation was introduced in several states, including California, New York, Illinois and Michigan. Maryland already enacted the measure into law.
This new legislation aims to prohibit employers from requesting or requiring that employees and applicants provide user names, passwords and other ways of accessing personal information on online websites such as Twitter and Facebook as a condition of their employment. By doing so, employers will be prevented from accessing personal and private information regarding an individual's religion, sexual orientation, marital status, off-duty activities and associations which could form the basis for an adverse employment action and lead to discrimination and/or harassment in the workplace.
Employers should monitor these developments and ensure, as legislation is passed, to review, revise and update social media policies. Further, employers should make sure that supervisors and those with hiring responsibilities are aware of any new laws and restrictions and refrain from requesting that employee and applicants provide user names and passwords to social media websites.
XpertHR has incorporated these requirements into our Employment Law Manual (both the federal and state level). For more information on this topic, refer to the following XpertHR Resources: