A new law in New York State will bar employers from requesting username and login information from employees and job applicants.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the legislation in mid-September 2023. It goes into effect March 12, 2024, and applies to nearly all employers in the state.
The New York State social media access law will impact a broad range of employment law activities.
Employment Law Compliance. Simplified.
New York State Social Media Access Law
In most instances, the law bars employers from requesting or requiring username and login information, including passwords, as a condition of:
- Employment status
- Use in disciplinary actions
It may seem somewhat rare for employers to request this type of information from applicants and employees. A memo of the statute provides justification for the law, reading, in part:
Recently, there have been reports of employers demanding login information, including username and password information to popular social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter as well as login information to email accounts and other extremely personal accounts. This information is being used as a condition of hiring, as well as promotions, lateral movement within companies and in matters relating to disciplinary action including, but not limited to, firing of individuals.
Once the law takes effect in March 2024, employers will be unable to request, require or coerce an employee or applicant to:
- Disclose social media account information
- Access accounts in the presence of an employer
- Reproduce social media posts
However, there are exceptions to the New York State social media access law. For instance, if an account is used for business purposes and the employee was provided prior notice of the company’s right to request or require access. Certain safety-sensitive jobs, such as police and firefighters, are also exempt from the law.
Meanwhile, employers will still be able to view someone’s social media accounts and publicly available posts.
Lastly, the law defines “personal account” as an “account or profile on an electronic medium where users may create, share, and view user-generated content, including uploading or downloading videos or still photographs, blogs, video blogs, podcasts, instant messages, or internet website profiles or locations that is used by an employee or an applicant exclusively for personal purposes.”
Devices Paid for by the Employer
The law does note that employers may access devices paid for in whole or in part by the employer. Still, that allowed access must be known to the employee in advance.
Employers would still not be able to access social media accounts on those devices, though a court order could override that provision.
And employers will still have the ability to restrict access to certain websites on company-funded devices, so long as the employee knew and agreed to it in advance.
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Employment Law Compliance Management
The New York State social media access law illustrates the continued challenges when it comes to employment law compliance.
Lawmakers in recent years have put an added emphasis on employee rights. From the expansion of paid leave legislation to new and updated minimum wage laws, the hurdles for employers continue to grow.
And, of course, all these laws add up to additional labor law poster requirements.
Employers must constantly monitor the jurisdictions where they have locations to ensure compliance.
Paid Sick Leave Laws by State
Companies with locations in the Empire State should note the new law barring employers from requesting social media usernames and passwords from employees and job applicants.
As a reminder, the New York State social media access law goes into effect March 12, 2024.