Social Media, Staff, and the Rules

by Arnold Ramirez

Although an employee’s “harmless” venting via social media could potentially damage the reputation or credibility of an employer, California law now prevents employers from asking to require access to an employee or job applicant’s personal social media accounts.

Social media is still very much in its nascent stage. The rules of etiquette and law have only begun to be established, and it’s anyone’s guess how rights and laws established long before the advent of social media will be applied and what new laws will come forth.

One new law, California Labor Code §980, came into effect January 1. It prohibits employers in California from asking employees or job applicants to provide access to their personal social media accounts.

Credit unions should review their policies on social media and human resources to make sure they comply with this new law’s provisions.

Social Media Defined

The new law defined “social media” as an electronic service or account, or electronic content, including but not limited to videos, photographs, blogs, video blogs, podcasts, instant and text messages, e-mail, online services or accounts, or Internet website profiles or locations.

Prohibited Behavior

Employers may not require or request an employee or applicant for employment to:

  • Disclose a username or password for the purpose of accessing personal social media
  • Access personal social media in the presence of the employer
  • Divulge any personal social media
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