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New state law limits access to employee social media info

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in HR Management,Human Resources

Starting Jan. 1, California employers may no longer require or request employees or job applicants to reveal their social media user names, passwords or other account information. A.B. 1844, signed in late summer, prohibits employers from firing or disciplining employees who refuse to divulge the information.

There’s one exception: Employers may request social media account information if it is relevant to an investigation into workplace misconduct.

The law is one of several employment law-related bills passed in Sacramento’s 2012 legislative session.

California becomes the third state, after Maryland and Illinois, to regulate employer access to social media accounts.

Note: In many ways, this law saves employers from themselves. Snooping around your employee’s social media pages can easily morph into a discrimination charge. A skillful attorney will ask: Why did you look at this particular employee and not others? Does the company have a policy on whose social media accounts are watched? Plus, the attorney will certainly ask for all company Internet records.

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