New York’s New Law Restricting Employer Access to Employee Social Media Accounts
In response to a trend of employers mandating login credentials for their employees’ social media accounts for the purpose of, among other things, evaluating employees for promotions and investigations of alleged employee misconduct, New York has a new law, effective March 12, 2024, that restricts employers’ access to current and prospective employee social media accounts.
Under the new law employers cannot (a) require employees to disclose usernames, passwords, or any login information relating to personal accounts; (b) access an employee’s personal account in the presence of the employer; or (c) reproduce photos, videos, or other information contained in employee’s personal accounts.
The new law does not bar employers from accessing company accounts that employees use in their jobs as long as the employer notifies the employees of the employer’s right to do so. Employers also maintain the right to access publicly available social media posts. In addition, the new law does not bar employers from limiting employee use of certain websites while on the employer’s network or device as long as the employer notifies employees of any such policy.
As is commonly the case with employment laws, the new law prohibits retaliation against an employee who refuses to provide access to a personal social media account in accordance with the law.
Employers should closely assess their social media policies, devise practices that comply with the new law, and obtain written employee acknowledgments where possible to prove compliance in the event an employee alleges a violation of the law.