NY Law Restricts Employer Access to Personal Social Media
A New York law, recently signed by Governor Kathy Hochul, will make it more difficult for employers across the state to access the social media accounts of employees and job applicants. It also makes it illegal for employers to punish employees who refuse to share that information with them. This is intended to protect employees from abusive practices that might otherwise allow employers to monitor employees’ private or protected conduct.
What is This New Law? The law, marked as Assembly Bill 00836/Senate Bill 02518A, will make it illegal for employers to require employees to provide login information for their personal accounts, to access their accounts in front of their employer, or reproduce posts or other content from their accounts. It also makes it illegal for employers to punish employees for refusing to share this information with them. This does not prevent an employer from requiring an employee to share information for a non-personal account, such as those used in the employer’s business. What is The Purpose of This Law? This law is meant to protect employees from abusive practices that may give employers nearly unrestricted access to their personal social media accounts. By conditioning employment on providing this information, employers can closely monitor employee activity, including their private messages. With this law, however, employers will have a much harder time gaining access to that information without express consent of the employee, and cannot legally punish them for failing to provide it. Why Might Employers Want Access to Employee Social Media Accounts? There are many reasons employers may be concerned about employee social media accounts, both legitimate and otherwise. From a more legitimate perspective, it allows employers to control their public image more carefully, and ensure their employees are not damaging their reputation by posting offensive or inappropriate content. However, employers have also been known to use this information to prevent employees from speaking out about their employers, and also to prevent labor organizing. How Could This Affect You? If you live in New York, this law will make it much easier for you to protect your private social media accounts. It allows you to speak more openly in public about your thoughts and opinions, without fear of professional repercussions. It can also allow you to more easily engage in labor organizing, if you decide that is necessary for your workplace. Steven Mitchell Sack, the Employee’s Lawyer, is a New York employment lawyer with more than 43 years’ experience handling the many aspects of employment law. His new book, “Fired!: Protect Your Rights & FIGHT BACK If You’re Terminated, Laid Off, Downsized, Restructured, Forced to Resign or Quit,” is available in hardback, and contains valuable advice on dealing with employment and labor law issues. To purchase the book, feel free to contact Steven Sack at 917-371-8000 or visit the website at legalstratpub.com. To inquire about a legal matter, please feel free to contact attorney Steven Sack at 917-371-8000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.