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New Jersey considers legislation to protect social media privacy

Imagine for a moment that your boss is watching over your shoulder as you point and click your way around your Facebook, Twitter or email account. He or she may not think your crack about work is funny or appreciate the photos from your friend’s bachelor party. This is why many people try to keep their work lives and their personal lives – including social media accounts – separate.

However, some employers are interested in social media activity for just that reason, among others. In recent years, employers across the country have tried to access social media information in hiring decisions and workplace investigations. Understandably, this concerns employees who may have liked to believe that this information would be seen only by the people they intended.

To address this issue, New Jersey lawmakers are considering legislation aimed at protecting employee privacy rights. The bill would make it illegal for employers to require — or even ask for – an employee’s social media username or password. If it passes, the law could help put at ease the minds of employees who rely on these sites as a personal communications method.

Some critics of the legislation have raised concerns that it could reduce hiring in the state. In some fields, such as marketing and advertising, social media is a significant part of many employees’ job responsibilities so it may make perfect sense for a prospective employer to ask to see what they can do with the technology.

New Jersey has many qualities that make it ideal for businesses, including a great location, an educated workforce and access to infrastructure. Hopefully lawmakers will work out a solution that both protects employees and satisfies the state’s employers.

Source: NJbiz.com, “Plenty of reasons not to like Facebook legislation,” March 18, 2013

To learn more about employee rights in New Jersey, including matters of wrongful termination, please visit our website.

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