Effective December 1, 2013, employers must comply with New Jersey’s Social Media Privacy Law. As we previously reported here, this new law prohibits employers from requiring job applicants or current employees:
- to disclose their personal social media account usernames and passwords; or
- to provide access to their personal social media account.
The law also contains an anti-retaliation provision and bars employers from requiring current or prospective employees to waive their rights under the law as a condition of employment.
Following Governor Chris Christie’s conditional veto to the original bill, the law was revised to provide a more balanced approach with some important pro employer limitations. Specifically, the restrictions in the law only apply to personal social media accounts and not to accounts used by current or prospective employees for business purposes. The law expressly permits employers to implement and enforce policies relating to the use of employer-issued electronic devices and employee social media accounts used for business purposes. The law also does not curtail an employer’s ability to access publicly available social media pages of applicants and employees. Further, employers may still investigate violations of law or regulation, employee misconduct or misappropriation of proprietary or confidential information even if that information is derived from personal social media accounts.
We expect that most New Jersey employers are already complying with this law. However, it is important to remind managers and human resources professionals of the parameters of the new law and to review company policies and hiring practices.