[author: Ted Olsen]
States are continuing to enact laws denying employers access to applicants' and employees' personal social media accounts. On September 27, 2012, California Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 1844 and Senate Bill1839, making California the third state in the country restricting employer access to applicants' and employees' personal social media. Under the new law, an employer may "not require or request" an employee or applicant to "[d]isclose a username or password for the purpose of accessing personal social media, [a]ccess personal social media in the presence of the employer, or [d]ivulge any personal social media."
The new law, which will take effect on January 1, 2013, provides that an employer may still lawfully request an employee to divulge personal social media reasonably believed to be relevant to an investigation into alleged employee misconduct or into an employee's violation of laws and regulations. Employer may also require an employee to disclose a username, password or other method for the purpose of accessing an employer-issued electronic device.
Under the new law, employers will be prohibited from discharging, disciplining, threatening to discharge or discipline, or otherwise retaliating against an employee or applicant for not complying with an employer's request or demand that violates this section.