Limitations On Employers’ Access To Employees’ Social Media Accounts

I think it is safe to say, most people have social media accounts if they have access to the Internet.  But some may wonder what protections are in place to protect their personal photos, daily tweets, private posts and page likes from access by a current or prospective employer.

Wonder no more, the State of California has enacted laws to restrict an employer’s access to an employee’s social media accounts.  California Labor Code § 980 prevents an employer from requiring or requesting an employee or job applicant to (1) provide a username or password that is used to access social media sites, (2) log on to social media sites in front of the employer, and (3) disclose social media.

The only exception to the rule is the employer may require an employee to disclose social media reasonably believed to be relevant to an investigation related to complaints of employee misconduct or other violations of the law.  Outside of this limited exception, employers do not have the right to access an employee or job applicant’s social media accounts.

However, if an employer asks, and an employee refuses to comply with the request for social media, an employer may not fire, discipline, threaten to fire or discipline, or retaliate against an employee or job applicant.