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Does an Employer Have Right to Access Your Social Media Account?

Posted on in Civil Service Employees

NYC employment law attorneyThe use of social media has grown so much it has become part of nearly everyone’s life. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who does not use social media on a regular basis. Among those in the working-age group, the use of social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are part and parcel of their social and work lives.

For this reason, it is not surprising that lines do get blurred and it becomes difficult to tell when use of social media is strictly for work and when it is for personal use. As a result, an employee may find themselves facing disciplinary action for using social media during work hours, and even in some cases during off work hours as well.

Employers Requesting Access to Employee Social Media Accounts

Employers rightly get concerned about blurred or mixed use of social media. For example, employers may be concerned about:

  • Sharing of proprietary information or trade secrets;
  • Violation of non-compete agreements;
  • Sharing or spreading negative information about the employer;
  • Getting office and work computers infected with malware and other viruses; and
  • Exposing the company to legal liabilities.

Because of such concerns about what their employees may be sharing with others in social media, many employers now request login and password information from their employees to access the employees’ social media accounts.

The Law in New York on Use of Social Media

Although there are no New York laws on the books that specifically address the issue, New York has joined many other states in proposing legislation that govern access to an employee’s social media accounts. There are several of these proposed laws, which include the following:

  • Bill A192: This would provide protection for an employee who refuses to provide an employer information that would give the employer access to the employee’s social media account. It would also offer protection for an applicant or prospective employee who refuses to provide an employer information that would give the employer access to the employee’s social media account.
  • Bill A5485: This bill would prohibit employers and educational institutions from requesting or requiring username and login information including passwords as a condition of hiring, employment status, for use in disciplinary actions, as well as admission decision or enrollment status; and
  • Bill B5995: This bill will prohibit an employer from requiring, requesting or coercing an employee to disclose the login information for a protected personal online account or to disclose the content of the account. The bill, however, provides certain exceptions under which the employer can be added as a user and have people added to such accounts that cannot be removed by the employee.

NYC Lawyers for Civil Service Job Defense

At Watford Jackson, we have experience in handling all issues related to employee discipline, including investigations, allegations or disciplinary proceedings and appeals. We are here to help you fight back. For resolution of your issues or counsel on the best way forward, contact an experienced New York labor and employment law attorney at 855-WAT-JACK or 855-928-5225. We are fully prepared to mount an aggressive defense to protect your legal rights. We handle civil service employment cases in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan, as well as in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties. We stand up for you.

 

Sources:

https://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?default_fld=%0D%0A&leg_video=&bn=A192&term=2017&Summary=Y&Actions=Y&Memo=Y&Text=Y

https://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?default_fld=%0D%0A&leg_video=&bn=5485&term=2017&Summary=Y&Actions=Y&Memo=Y&Text=Y

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