Monday, March 26, 2012

Lawmakers react to reports that employers are demanding social media passwords from job applicants

Following Facebook's condemnation last week of the employer practice of asking job applicants for their social media log-in passwords, both state and federal lawmakers are now speaking out too by proposing legislation to prohibit the practice. However, some labor and employment attorneys say that the stories circulated last week overstate the problem.

From the BNA Electronic Commerce and Law Report (subscription required):

From California and Capitol Hill, Lawmakers React to News of Employers' Facebook Prying

SACRAMENTO, Calif.—Employers would be prohibited from demanding that employees or job applicants provide usernames and passwords for social media websites under a bill introduced March 26.
S.B. 1359 by Sen. Leland Yee (D) said he introduced the bill in response to reports that employers are increasingly demanding that employees and applicants provide their login information for sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
“It is completely unacceptable for an employer to invade someone's personal social media accounts,” Yee said. “Not only is it entirely unnecessary, it is an invasion of privacy and unrelated to one's work performance or abilities.”
Employer demands for social media passwords is also a hot topic in Washington, where Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) also responded to reports that employers are demanding social media passwords from employees and job applicants. In a letter dated March 25, the senators asked the U.S. Department of Justice and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate whether employer demands that job applicants turn over their social media passwords violates current federal law.
. . . .
A pair of attorneys with labor law practices said that the practice, if it exists at all, is not prevalent.
“Aside from what has been reported in the media, I am not aware of any employer who has asked an applicant for login credentials or who has a policy of doing so,” Philip Gordon, a shareholder with Littler Mendelson, in Denver, who represents management on employment issues, told BNA March 26.
Eric B. Meyer said in a March 26 post in his “The Employer Handbook” blog that employers requiring workers and applicants for their social media passwords “is most definitely the exception and not the rule.” Myers added that “this is old news and only involves a scant few employers.”

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