New California Law Protects Employee Use of Social Media

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California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a new law protecting employee use of social media by prohibiting an employer from requiring or requesting an employee or applicant for employment to disclose a username or password for the purpose of accessing the employee’s personal social media. Additionally, an employer may not require an employee or applicant to divulge any personal social media unless the employer reasonably believes such disclosure is relevant to an investigation of allegations of employee misconduct or employee violation of applicable laws or regulations. Under the new law, however, an employer may require the disclosure of a username or password for the purpose of accessing an employer-issued electronic device. Although employees may sue employers in court for a violation of the new law, the California Labor Commissioner is specifically exempted from investigating or determining any violation of the Act. (AB 1844 will become effective in California on Jan. 1, 2013.)