Many states have enacted social media privacy laws (statutes) that prohibit an employer from requesting or requiring an employee or job applicant to disclose their username or password on any personal social media account—or requesting or requiring the employee access the social media account in the presence of the employer. These laws often also prohibit an employer from penalizing, disciplining, or terminating/discharging an employee for refusing to disclose such information.
Social media privacy laws vary from state to state and may not apply if the employer is investigating an allegation of employee misconduct (harassing another employee on social media) or a violation of laws and regulations (communications on social media about workplace safety violations). And an employer may require or request an employee disclose a username, password, or other means of accessing an electronic device (phone, computer, tablet) issued by the employer.
States with specific social media privacy laws for the workplace include:
• New Hampshire
• New Jersey
• New Mexico
• Rhode Island
• West Virginia
In states without specific social media privacy laws for the workplace, other general privacy laws may apply.