New Jersey’s password-protected social media law went into effect on December 1, 2013, with some regulations regarding what employers can and cannot do regarding the social media accounts of current or prospective employees. Generally, New Jersey employers are prohibited from:
– Requesting social media account usernames and/or passwords;
– Retaliating or discriminating against an employee for failing to provide social media account credentials;
– Using publicly-available “protected characteristic” information (such as physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, religion, etc.) in making employment decisions.
However, New Jersey employers may:
– Ask for social media account information for business purposes (for instance, if an employee is using a personal social media account to market company services);
– Ask for social media credentials if conducting certain investigations (improper transfer of proprietary information, confidential information, or financial data using the social account);
– Train key employees on the new law, and establish clear policies that coincide with it.
In borderline situations, it is best to consult an expert before requesting or viewing any private social media information. Check out What employers can do about Social Media for more information.