New Nebraska Law Limits Employer Access to Employee or Applicant’s Social Networking Accounts

On April 13, 2016, the Nebraska legislature passed LB 821, sending the Workplace Privacy Act to the governor for signature. Recently, with over 43% of employers using social networks to research employees and applicants, a significant debate occurred pertaining to the privacy an applicant should have in regards to the information on these sites. In light of the failed attempts to regulate at a federal level, almost half the states have enacted legislation that deals with the same issues as Nebraska’s Workplace Privacy Act.

The new law prohibits an employer from requesting or requiring the employee, or even an applicant, from turning over passwords and usernames for social networking accounts. Similarly, the law also prohibits the employer from requesting access to the account via the employee or applicant logging on for them. Moreover, these protections cannot be waived by the employee, nor should an employer ask for a waiver as a condition of employment.

While the new law provides protection to an employee or applicant from giving unfettered access to social networking accounts, it does not change the employer’s access to information already in the public domain. However, should an employer violate this law, the employee or applicant now has recourse and can file a civil action within one year of the violation.

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