On August 29, 2013, New Jersey became the ninth State this year, and the twelfth State overall, to enact legislation prohibiting employers from seeking any personal social media account information from current or prospective employees. The new law, A2878, not only forbids requests for usernames, passwords, or other forms of access to personal social media accounts, but it even forbids requests to disclose whether a current or prospective employee has or had such an account.
Any employer who violates the new law will be subject to a fine of $1000.00 for the first offense, and fines of $2500.00 for each subsequent offense. Additionally, an aggrieved current or prospective employee may bring a civil lawsuit within one year from the date of an alleged offense for: (1) injunctive relief; (2) monetary damages; and (3) reasonable attorneys’ fees and court costs.
It bears noting that the new law protects only “personal” social media accounts used “exclusively for personal communications unrelated to any business purposes of the employer,” and specifically does not apply to “any account, service or profile created, maintained, used or accessed by a current or prospective employee for business purposes of the employer or to engage in business related communications.”