Tempted to Ask for An Employee’s Personal Password? Just Say No

By Eric W. Tiritilli

If you’ve ever had the inclination to ask a job applicant or employee for their log-in information or passwords to their personal accounts, you should run – and not walk – away from such ideas.  Not only is requiring an employee to reveal passwords to their personal accounts unlikely to win any points with the employee, it will become illegal in Nebraska once a bill passed by the Nebraska legislature is signed by the Governor.

Legislative Bill 821 will make it illegal to require an employee or an applicant to disclose their user name or password to a personal internet account, to require them to log into their personal account in front of the employer, to require them to change their personal account settings, to add someone (including the employer) to their personal account or to penalize an employee for failing to take such actions.

LB 821 does not prohibit employers from maintaining polices regarding the use of the employer’s equipment and internet (but don’t forget that the NLRB has had a lot to say on these topics).  Nevertheless, the new law would prohibit an employer from intruding on the “personal” internet accounts of an employee.  So, if you’ve ever been tempted to ask an employee for a peek at their personal internet accounts – just say no!

© 2016 Vandenack Williams LLC
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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.

© 2016 Vandenack Williams LLC
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Facebook and the Workplace: Employee Rights and the Law

By Eric W. Tiritilli.

More and more employees use social media, including Facebook, to discuss work – sometimes in fairly unflattering terms.  This has caused stress for employers who want to maintain their good name, but also don’t want to violate the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) by punishing employees who vent their spleen on social media.  Employers’ concerns are well placed. One recent example involves an employer who discharged an employee after he “liked” a negative comment on Facebook concerning an alleged tax withholding issue involving the employer.  The employer was found to have violated the NRLA.

In Three D, LLC, the National Labor Relations Board explained that because the Facebook discussion involved employees “looking toward group action to encourage the employer to address problems in terms or conditions of employment [and] not to disparage its product or services or undermine its reputation, the communications [were] protected.” The employee who “liked” the post was expressing agreement with the post and was protected by the NLRA. The discharge was, therefore, impermissible.

The law in this area is always evolving, but employers should be aware of the requirements and protections of the NLRA when making disciplinary decisions related to employees’ social media activities.

© 2014 Parsonage Vandenack Williams LLC

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