Arkansas Latest to Pass a Workplace Social Media Privacy Law

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By Eric B. Meyer

I don’t know much about Arkansas. My knowledge consists of Gennifer Flowers, Wal-Mart, and this handy-dandy iPhone app for harvesting deer. I also hear that the official state beverage is milk.

How about that?

But now I know one more thing: Arkansas has a new social media privacy law, which prohibits an employer from requiring or requesting that a current or prospective employee do any of the following:

  • Disclose his/her user name or password for a social media account;
  • Add a co-worker “to the list or contacts associated” with the account;
  • Change his/her account privacy settings,

Arkansas law unties HR’s hands

While I do not like these laws — they are unnecessary, the vast majority of employers aren’t as stupid as passage of these laws would lead some to believe — the Arkansas law does carve-out some exceptions, which is nice in light of public criticism from Wall Street about how these laws may inadvertently promote Ponzi schemes and fraud.

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It also unties HR’s hands, allowing it to conduct effective investigations should the need to access social media accounts arise.

The Arkansas law:

  • Prevents an employer from complying with the requirements of federal, state, or local laws, rules, or regulations or the rules or regulations of self-regulatory organizations; or,
  • Allows employer to request an employee to disclose his or her user name and password for the purpose of accessing a social media account if the employee’s social media account activity is reasonably believed to be relevant to a formal investigation or related proceeding by the employer of allegations of an employee’s violation of federal, state, or local laws or regulations or of the employer’s written policies.

This was originally published on Eric B. Meyer’s blog, The Employer Handbook.

You know that scientist in the action movie who has all the right answers if only the government would just pay attention? Eric B. Meyer, Esq. gets companies HR-compliant before the action sequence. Serving clients nationwide, Eric is a Partner at FisherBroyles, LLP, which is the largest full-service, cloud-based law firm in the world, with approximately 210 attorneys in 21 offices nationwide. Eric is also a volunteer EEOC mediator, a paid private mediator, and publisher of The Employer Handbook (www.TheEmployerHandbook.com), which is pretty much the best employment law blog ever. That, and he's been quoted in the British tabloids. #Bucketlist.

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