New Jersey Latest State to Pass Workplace Social Media Privacy Law

By Eric B. Meyer

It took some doing, but the State of New Jersey finally has itself a workplace social media privacy law, becoming the 12th state to restrict company access to prospective and current employee social media.

Back in the Spring, I reported here that the New Jersey  Legislature sent a version of the bill to Gov. Chris Christie. However, to protect New Jersey businesses, Gov. Christie conditionally vetoed the proposed legislation and sent is back to both the New Jersey House and Senate with some proposed changes.

Both the House and Senate accepted these changes and sent the amended legislation back to Gov. Christie, which he formally signed late last week.

Notable differences in the New Jersey law

Like similar laws in other states, this new law prohibits employers from requiring prospective and current employees from disclosing online user names and passwords. And while I do not advocate social-media-credential requests from employers, it’s worth noting that there are severable notable differences in the new New Jersey law, which loosen the restraints on local companies:

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Many public employers which deal in public safety are exempted;

  • Any employer may require that the login/password of any account maintained for business purposes of the employer — even if created by a current or prospective employee — be disclosed;
  • Employers can also demand login/password as part of several categories of workplace investigations;
  • Employers can ask a current or prospective employee if he/she has a social media account; and,
  • Any aggrieved current or prospective employee may report an alleged violation to the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development, but cannot bring a private action against the employer.

The new law goes into effect on December 1, 2013.

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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