Delaware Passes Law Protecting Employee and Applicant Social Media Accounts

Delaware joined 21 other states across the country by passing a law that restricts employer access to personal social media accounts.

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On August 7, Governor Jack Markell signed four pieces of legislation into law expanding the online protections of residents and employees.

One bill in the package, House Bill 109, also referred to as The Employee/Applicant Protection for Social Media Act, protects employee and applicant personal social media accounts. The law which also took effect on August 7, prohibits employers from:

  • Demanding access to an employee’s or applicant’s personal social media accounts;
  • Demanding an employee accesses personal social media accounts in the presence of the employer;
  • Adding a person, including the employer, to the list of contacts associated with the applicant’s or employee’s personal social media
  • Inviting or accepting an invitation from any person, including the employer, to join a group associated with the applicant’s or employee’s personal social media; or
  • Altering settings on the applicant’s or employee’s personal social media that affect a third party’s ability to view the contents of the medium.

 What Employers Should Know

The Employee/Applicant Protection for Social Media Act protects an applicant’s or employee’s personal online activity, however, it does not prohibit an employer from investigating and punishing conduct that is damaging to the employer or business. Employers can retain control over company accounts created for business purposes.

Employers are allowed to:

  • Exercise their rights under their personnel policies, federal or state law to require or request an employee to disclose their username, password, or social media “reasonably believed to be relevant” to an investigation of alleged employee misconduct or violation of applicable laws and regulations
  • Require or request an employee disclose a username, password, or other accessing credentials for
    • an electronic communication device supplied by or paid for by the employer; or
    • an account or service provided by the employer, or used for the employer’s business purposes;
  • Access, block, monitor, or review electronic data stored on an employer’s network or on an electronic communications device supplied by or paid for by the employer;
  • Screen applicants or employees, monitor or retain employee communications,
  • Access, use, or view information about an applicant or employee available in the public domain.
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