Prospective and Current Employees'
Social Network Accounts Are Off Limits in Illinois
Written by Abigail C. Waeyaert
As published in the Califf & Harper, P.C. September 2012 Newsletter
The rising use of social networks has left employers wondering what they can and cannot do with respect to their employes' use of such accounts. This month, Illinois amended the Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act and provided employers with some guidance.
What are employers prohibited from doing?
Under the new amendments, effective January 1, 2013, employers cannot request or require a prospective or current employee to provide his or her password or other account information in order to gain access to that person's social networking account or profile. Employers also cannot demand access to a prospective or current employee's account or profile.
What are employers allowed to do?
The amendments do not take away an employer's right to maintain lawful workplace policies that govern the use of the employer's electronic equipment. Thus, employers can still have workplace policies regarding an employee's internet, social networking and e-mail use. An employer also has the right to monitor an employee's use of the employer's electronic equipment and e-mail (although this right is still subject to the prohibition that restricts the employer from requesting or requiring social networking passwords or account information). An employer is also allowed to obtain information about prospective or current employees that is available to the public.
Illinois is the second state to enact legislation restricting employers' access to their employees' social networking accounts. Other states are currently considering similar legislation.
Other articles related to employers and social networks:
Facebook Postings: What Employers Should Know by Sigrid U. Zaehringer
Social Media and Employee Privacy Rights by Sigrid U. Zaehringer
For more information on this topic please contact Califf & Harper, P.C. by calling 309-764-8300 or 1-888-764-4999. This article is intended to provide general information regarding the topic discussed herein but is not intended to constitute individual legal advice.