According to the Pew Research Center more than 50% of Facebook users are older than 35. While most are not posting images of themselves wasted at a party or a springbreak trip they believe that their Facebook page enjoys a reasonable amount of privacy; at least until current and potential employers began asking for their log-in IDs and passwords.

In response to this potential invasion of privacy, on August 1st Illinois Governor Quinn signed legislation into law that makes it unlawful for an employer to ask for or require current or prospective employees to provide login information to their social media sites. In fact, the law allows employees to file a lawsuit if their current or potential employer demands access “in any manner to their social media profile or account.” HB 3782 goes into effect January 1, 2013 and prevents employers from screening applicants or punishing current employees based upon private information from their social network accounts.

While the fundamental right to privacy has been preserved, there is a concern among employers that the new law does not allow for exceptions and could make it difficult for employers to investigate alleged workplace misconduct or harassment. The law’s definition of social networking sites does not include email nor does it prevent employers from obtaining information about current or potential employees that is in the public domain, so always exercise care when posting information on the web.