As social media use among employees continues to grow, some employers have moved to limit such activities or control them by asking workers to hand over account information. Yet that last tactic is sure to land an employer in hot water with regulators in a growing number of states after two more enacted legislation banning employers from demanding account disclosure.
Arkansas, New Mexico latest to limit employer requests
Recently, Gov. Mike Beebe lent his signature to Act 1480, which makes it illegal for an Arkansas employer to require an employee or job applicant to disclose information related to a personal social media account; meaning businesses cannot demand workers give them user names or passwords. Additionally, employers cannot force employees to add co-workers, management or administrators to their social lists; nor can they alter privacy settings.
However, if an employer does find itself in the possession of such information - perhaps gleaned from using a device an employee had previously to access social media on - then the law absolves the business of liability, provided it does not use that information in an further respects. The measures also enables businesses to access such accounts if such an action is reasonably related to a formal investigation.
Employers who continue to request social account information and take adverse action against employees that do not comply can be punished under the parameters of the law, which may result in fines or incarceration.
Joining Arkansas as the latest state to prohibit employers from asking for social user names and passwords is New Mexico, whose Gov. Susana Martinez recently signed into law S.B. 371, which specifically addresses prospective employees and employer requests for social media information.
The measure expressly bans employers from asking job applicants to turn over personal information relevant to their social account.
Unlike other states that have moved to make it unlawful for employers to request current employees' social account specifics, New Mexico's new legislation does not address that function and does not ban such actions.
Additionally, New Mexico law does not interfere with an employer's ability to monitor usage of employee electronic devices, formulate internet use policies at work or conduct background checks.
Considering the overwhelming trend toward such social media-related legislation, firms need to be mindful of compliance at every turn. Working with an HR partner can sufficiently prepare organizations.
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