It’s official! Effective January 1, California and Illinois based employers are no longer allowed to ask for their job seekers and employees’ usernames and passwords to their own social media accounts. This is based on the new legislation signed by Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn last August. The legislation, amends the State’s ‘Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act.’, moves to prohibit employers to pry on the private social media accounts of their current or potential employees. A month later, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the legislation; which added the prohibitions to the State’s Labor Code. The other states that have implemented these privacy laws include Delaware, New Jersey, Michigan, and Maryland.
The legislation was prompted by both worker and privacy advocates who were concerned about the issue of employers making use of these social media accounts as basis for their hiring and employment. With the help of this legislation, employees will not feel the need to be-friend the person in charge of human resources or even delete their social media accounts. Additionally, employers are banned from sending out such requests to their employees. This holds true for jobs that need comprehensive background screening.
While this law prohibits employers from gaining access to the private social media accounts of their employees, it does not stop them from being able to review the publicly available information found on their employees’ social media accounts. At the same time, they can still monitor employee data and email stored on company computers.
Thanks to this new law, employers are prohibited from terminating employees for failing to give access to their personal social media accounts or even give up their accounts in such sites.