The issue of social media and its use in hiring decisions continues to be a hot topic with legislators in 28 states. While Wisconsin is the only state to have enacted this type of legislation in to law (Assembly Bill 208), 28 states have worked to create social media legislation that will ban, or severely restrict, the use of social media in a hiring decision.
The latest state, Connecticut, has introduced social media legislation that includes civil fines; rehiring or reinstating an employee that has been fired as a result of a finding on social media or not complying with requests to provide login information; and an award of attorney’s fees and costs if the labor commission finds that the employer violated the statute. This legislation is encouraging the following guidelines for employers:
- Precludes employers from requiring potential or current employees to disclose the login information for their social media pages
- Bars employers from asking potential or current employees to access a social media page “in the presence of the employer”
- Generally prohibits employers from taking adverse action in response to a potential or current employee who refuses to provide the log-in information for their social media pages or access such pages in front of the employer.
What is at issue with any employer who requests log in information for an employee or prospective employee’s social media sites is an employee’s privacy that has been challenged by many privacy advocates. Unfortunately, too many employers have leveraged the employee’s position with the company against the forfeiture of log in information, and this type of action is the reason so many states have jumped on the bandwagon to restrict the use of social media for employment purposes.
With so many states currently pursuing this type of legislation (2014 Social Media Legislation), it is important for employers to stay ahead of the curve and review policies and procedures to ensure that their hiring practices are within the proposed guidelines. While only one state has successfully passed social media legislation, others will not be far behind. As an employer, it’s important to ensure that you are up to date on all the latest hiring legislation, or be faced with a possible lawsuit if you are unaware of any local, state or federal changes, whether in regards to social media legislation or other areas.