Employers across the United States have begun to cross the line in their search for employee information. While employers have been searching employees’ public Facebook profiles for years, many are now actually demanding that employees and potential hiring candidates share their passwords and access information to their Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. This directly infringes on an employee’s private life and can have unforeseen legal ramifications.
The ACLU and Facebook Strike Back at Employers
Catherine Crump, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, recently stated that the ACLU is not taking this kind of “snooping” lightly. They believe that it is an “invasion of privacy” for private employers to demand this type of social media access from their employees.
In 2012, Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer addressed this growing concern on Facebook’s privacy page and reiterated that requesting or soliciting another user’s password or information is a violation of Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.
Six States Enact Facebook Legislation
Now, states have taken it upon themselves to protect the online privacy of their residents. California, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, and Michigan are six states who recently enacted legislation to prevent employers from demanding Facebook passwords and online information from their employees or from potential hiring candidates. Other states have also begun to introduce such legislation in the past year. In April 2012, Washington Sen. Steve Hobbs sponsored legislation known as the “Facebook Bill”. This bill would make it “illegal for any employer to request a password or related account information for the purpose of gaining access to any social networking site maintained by a current or prospective employee”.
Inappropriate Access to Facebook May Increase Likelihood of Discrimination Claims
Currently it is illegal for any employer to ask an employee or a potential hiring candidate about their age, race, or sexual orientation. Inappropriate access to an employee’s Facebook page could reveal this type of sensitive information. In turn, this may lead to discrimination based firings and unexpected employee discrimination lawsuits.
Washington Employee Discrimination Based on Social Media Sites
If you or someone you love was fired or has been harassed at work after an employer viewed your Facebook site or other social media site, you may have cause to file a discrimination claim. Employee discrimination should not be taken lightly and firing someone for their age, sexual orientation, race, or religion is against the law.
The Washington employee discrimination attorneys at Phillips Law Firm are available 24/7 to meet with you and review your case. Call us today at 1-800-708-6000. We represent employees in Seattle, Bellevue, Everett, Tacoma, or anywhere in the State of Washington who believe that their rights have been violated. Call us today.