Today many employers and potential employers are asking for Facebook passwords, in order to gain access to an employee or potential employee's social media. All too often, the result is an employee losing their job or a potential employee not being offered a job. But should employers and potential employers be allowed to ask for Facebook or other social media passwords?
In Maryland and effective January 1, 2013 in Illinois, the answer is a resounding "No". To date these are the only two states to have passed laws precluding employers from asking for social media logins. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn) have asked the Federal Justice Department (DOJ) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), to determine if such employer inquiries violate the Stored Communications Act and/or the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. This investigation is currently still pending.
Although New York does not currently have a specific statute precluding employers or potential employers from asking for social media passwords, if they do so, employers run the risk of violating civil rights, privacy, financial practice and/or equal protection statutes. However, this is very little solace for the person who refuses to give their password at an interview and then never hears back again about the job. This is perhaps just one of many examples, where the law needs to catch up with the times.
Long Island Lawyer
Paul A. Lauto, Esq.