Utah may be the next state to join the ranks of California, Illinois, Maryland and Michigan in prohibiting employers from requesting or requiring employees or job applicants to disclose their personal internet and social media account usernames and passwords if a bill passed by the Utah legislature is signed into law by Governor Gary R. Herbert. +2013 Bill Text UT H.B. 100; +2013 Bill Tracking UT H.B. 100. The bill, titled the Internet Employment Privacy Act, also prohibits employers from taking adverse actions against such individuals who refuse to provide their account information to employers.
The bill defines a personal internet account as any online account used by an employee or applicant exclusively for personal communications unrelated to any business purpose of the employer. Employers are exempt if an employee is using an internet account for business purposes, or if they need to conduct an investigation of an employee's misconduct or unauthorized downloading of the employer's proprietary, confidential and financial information. The bill does not prevent employers from restricting, monitoring and blocking employee access when using employer-provided devices.
In addition, the bill allows individuals to file a lawsuit against the employer and obtain an award of up to $500.
Advice for Employers
If the bill is signed into law, Utah employers should be prepared to review and revise their workplace policies and practices regarding social media, background checks, and hiring and management. Employers also should inform all supervisors and employees with hiring responsibilities that they may not request or require employees and job applicants to provide passwords and account information to their personal internet accounts or retaliate against them for refusing to provide such information.
Employee Management > Employee Privacy > Future Developments: Utah
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