On Thursday, August 29, 2013, New Jersey’s Governor Christopher Christie signed bill A-2878 into law. This law places New Jersey in line with the growing trend of states restricting employers’ ability to require job candidates to provide information (i.e., usernames and passwords) about their personal social media accounts, such as Facebook or LinkedIn.
The final version of A-2878 is substantially more employer-friendly than the one conditionally vetoed by Governor Christie earlier this year. That version of the bill would have permitted employees or prospective employees to sue an employer who asked about whether the individual even had a personal social media account. Governor Christie believed that such restrictions would have placed too onerous of a burden on employers by not allowing them to conduct due diligence on potential employees and to protect their companies without exposing them to a lawsuit. Another pro-employer change to the bill is that it permits employers to investigate employees’ social media accounts when they are made aware of potential illegal activities and wrongful disclosures of a company’s proprietary orconfidentialinformation.
Despite the employer-friendly modifications, the revised bill continues to protect an individual’s right to privacy by greatly restricting employers’ ability to access employees’ specific social media account information without cause. The law will officially take effect in four months, just prior to the start of 2014.