New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has signed into law Assembly Bill A2878/S1915 that limits the ability of employers to require employees and job applicants to disclose user names, passwords, or other means for accessing social media accounts such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter or other services through electronic communications devices. The full text of New Jersey Assembly Bill A2878/S1915 – which takes effect December 1, 2013 – is available at http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2012/Bills/A3000/2878_R4.PDF.
Under Assembly Bill A2878/S1915, employers in New Jersey are also prohibited from retaliating or discriminating against employees or job applicants who refuse to provide access to social media accounts or report alleged violations of the law. However, after Governor Christie’s conditional veto of the original proposal, the bill was revised to include the following protections for employers:
- Assembly Bill A2878/S1915 applies only to personal social media accounts while those social media accounts related to the business of the employer or utilized for business-related communications are not protected.
- Assembly Bill A2878/S1915 does not prohibit employers from asking applicants or employees if they have a social media account or from reviewing any public social media content.
- Assembly Bill A2878/S1915 does not create a private right of action to enforce its provisions. The New Jersey Department of Labor may pursue penalties of up to $1,000 for the first violation and $2,500 for each subsequent violation.
- Assembly Bill A2878/S1915 permits employers to obtain access to personal social media accounts to ensure legal/regulatory compliance, to investigate work-related employee misconduct, or to investigate potential disclosures of the employer’s proprietary, confidential, or financial information.
New Jersey is the latest state to limit the ability of employers to obtain access to the social media accounts of their employees or job applicants. According the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), legislation has been introduced or is pending in at least 36 states to limit employer access to social media user names and passwords. A list of social media privacy legislation is available at http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/telecom/employer-access-to-social-media-passwords-2013.aspx.
To review the potential dangers of social media background checks, Attorney Lester Rosen, Founder and CEO of Employment Screening Resources® (ESR), has written a whitepaper ‘Managing the Risks of Using the Internet for Employment Screening Background Checks’ available at http://www.esrcheck.com/Download/. To learn more about ESR, a nationwide screening provider accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®), visit http://www.esrcheck.com or call Toll Free 888.999.4474.
About Employment Screening Resources® (ESR):
Founded by safe hiring expert Attorney Les Rosen in 1997, Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority®’– provides accurate and actionable information that empowers employers to make informed hiring decisions for the benefit of their organizations, employees, and the public. CEO Rosen literally wrote the book on background checks with “The Safe Hiring Manual” and ESR is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), a distinction held by a small percent of screening firms. Employers choosing ESR know they have selected an agency meeting the highest industry standards. To learn more about ESR, visit http://www.esrcheck.com or call toll free 888.999.4474.
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The Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) News blog – ESR News – provides employment screening information for employers, recruiters, and jobseekers on a variety of topics including credit reports, criminal records, data privacy, discrimination, E-Verify, jobs reports, legal updates, negligent hiring, workplace violence, and use of search engines and social network sites for background checks. For more information about ESR News or to send comments or questions, please email ESR News Editor Thomas Ahearn at [email protected]. To subscribe to the ESR News Blog Feed, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/feed/. To subscribe to the complimentary ESRcheck Report monthly newsletter, please visit http://www.esrcheck.com/Newsletter/.