Lawmakers Seek to Protect Social Media Passwords from Employers
Employers generally scan publicly available information on social media websites to prescreen employment candidates. Some employers may even request access to password-protected information as a way to further screen candidates. Until recently, many states have not had laws protecting workers who have been denied employment opportunities when they refused to grant access to personal account information. Sixteen states have enacted legislation to limit an employer’s ability to preview information hidden behind password-protected firewalls.
Legislators in Florida are following in the footsteps of these 16 states and pursuing a bill that denies employers access to an employee or applicant’s social media passwords. The new Florida bill is championed by state Senator Jeff Clemens and aims to protect employees who are being forced to disclose usernames, passwords and account information as a precondition for job opportunities or continued employment. Currently, employers may request this type of information with impunity. If an applicant refuses to provide personal information, employers may retaliate by refusing to hire the candidate or choosing to fire the job applicant.
Once the bill takes effect, this view of employment screening could change. Employers caught violating the legislation are likely to face:
- Fines of up to $500 for each violation
- Retaliation claims authorized by the new legislation and filed by employees or applicants who have been fired or not hired because they refused to submit to the warrantless and nonconsensual search of their Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Pinterest or unrelated social media account.
This legislation is slated to be finalized in March 2014. In the meantime, if your rights have been violated, talk with a retaliatory discharge attorney in Florida, who can help you take action to protect your rights.