New Law Protects Social Media Account Privacy for New Jersey Workers and Job Applicants

file291297121301 morguefile username enfinite5.jpgIncreasingly, Americans are utilizing social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and more both on and off the job. In recent years, a growing number of employers have reportedly asked workers and job applicants for access to their personal social media accounts as a condition of employment. In response to this practice, Governor Chris Christie recently signed into law a bill that prohibits New Jersey employers from requesting access to the personal social media accounts of workers or job candidates.

Companies who violate the new social media law will be subject to a $1,000 fine for the first offense and a $2,500 fine for each additional offense. The measure also allows employees and applicants the option to seek financial compensation for lost earnings from an employer who violates the law. Additionally, employers may not require a job candidate to waive any of the protections of the law as a condition of hiring, and they may not retaliate against a worker for exercising any rights guaranteed by the legislation.

The measure, which goes into effect on December 1st, does not apply to employer policies related to use of company-issued electronic devices such as laptops and smartphones. Also, employers are not prohibited from viewing employee or candidate information that is generally available to the public. State and local law enforcement agencies are not required to adhere to the provisions of the new law.

The bipartisan bill was initially passed by the New Jersey Legislature in May, but it was conditionally vetoed by Governor Christie. According to the Governor, although the bill was “well-intentioned,” it was written too broadly. He stated a careful balance was necessary to allow employers to properly vet workers and job candidates while still protecting each individual’s right to privacy. After the measure was revised and approved by the Legislature, Governor Christie signed the modified bill. Last December, he also signed similar legislation that forbids universities and other institutions of higher learning from requiring applicants to provide social media account passwords.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 36 states introduced a measure that would prohibit or limit an employer’s access to the private social media accounts of company personnel in 2013. Ten states, including New Jersey, have enacted such legislation this year.

The experienced and hardworking employment attorneys at the Resnick Law Group represent current and former workers in both New Jersey and New York regarding matters that involve unlawful workplace discrimination. To discuss your situation with a caring advocate, do not hesitate to contact the Resnick Law Group through our website or give us a call at 973-781-1204 or 646-867-7997 today.

More Blog Posts:

Disabled Workers in New Jersey and Nationwide May Suffer Discrimination, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, August 27, 2013
New Jersey Legislature Passes Bill Protecting Employees’ Social Media Accounts from Employer Scrutiny, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, April 19, 2013
Additional Resources:

Christie signs bill banning N.J. companies from forcing workers to hand over social media passwords, by Brent Johnson, nj.com

Photo credit: enfinite5, morgueFile

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