Utah has joined California, Illinois, Maryland and Michigan in enacting legislation to protect the online privacy of employees and/or job applicants.
Effective May 14, 2013, Utah employers will be prohibited from requesting or requiring that employees or applicants disclose their usernames and passwords that would permit access to their personal internet accounts. +2013 Bill Text UT H.B. 100. The law also protects employees from retaliation if they refuse to provide their usernames and passwords to their employers. Employers that fail to comply with this new law can be exposed to an employee's lawsuit, who if successful can collect damages up to $500 against the employer.
However, the new law carves out some important exceptions for employers. For example, a Utah employer may request usernames and passwords to access an employer-provided device or to carry out a disciplinary investigation.
Utah employers should review and revise their workplace policies and practices regarding social media as well as hiring and management. Supervisors and those with hiring responsibilities should be notified about the law's requirements.
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