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New Jersey bill: fine employers who ask for Facebook information

Social media use is an emerging area of employment law here in New Jersey. From whether employees should be allowed to check Facebook at work to whether employers can demand the social media passwords of workers, this is an environment that state and federal statutes are just beginning to navigate.

Today, a New Jersey Senate committee delved a bit further into these issues and passed a measure that would allow employees and students to sue their employers or schools if they even ask them about their Facebook profiles.

Under two bills, employers and universities would not be allowed to ask workers or students for their social networking passwords or force them to disclose whether they have any social networking accounts, on sites such as Facebook or Twitter, for example.

If these bills are to pass, employers could be fined up to $2,500 for violating these laws and colleges would be fined up to $2,000.

New Jersey's social media laws would be unique among states that have addressed this issue as it would be the only state to allow employees to sue. So far, at least 10 other states have similar measures in their legislatures, and Maryland has passed a law like this, but it does not allow lawsuits.

Both employers and employees should take note of this issue. Employees who have been asked to reveal information about their Facebook use, or other social networking, may want to talk to an employment law attorney about their rights. Employers, too, may be wise to pay attention to these bills, and to make sure their policies reflect the existing and evolving laws regarding social media.

Source: NJ.com,"Senate committee passes bills allowing employees, students to sue if forced to reveal Facebook profiles," Matt Friedman, Sept. 20, 2012

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