Employers and social media: Tennessee law prevents password exchange

Tennessee Social Media ImageJob applicants have long been concerned with how potential employers and social media posts may intersect. Many worry that things they posted years ago might be used against them during the job search, especially if an employer requests access to social media accounts. However, Tennessee has passed a new law that limits what an employer can ask for under the Employee Online Privacy Act of 2014. Under this new act, employers may not ask for passwords for personal social media accounts, or make it a requirement that the applicant add the employer to their list of “friends” or “followers.” Furthermore, the employer cannot require the candidate to open personal social accounts in the presence of the employer, nor can the employer make hiring decisions against prospective employees who refuse to allow access to private social accounts. Employers and social media may still interact, though, in some circumstances. Companies may access any information that a candidate puts on a public profile, and may also request password information for accounts that may be directly related to the company. They may also monitor social media activity that occurs on company computers or devices. Individuals are allowed to sue over violations regarding employers and social media accounts or passwords, if an employer doesn’t conform to the restrictions laid out in the Online Privacy Act. Plaintiffs may receive up to $1,000 in damages per violation. The Online Privacy Act will go into effect on the first day of 2015. Maryland and Illinois also have laws on the books banning employers from requesting social media passwords. photo credit: Spencer E Holtaway via photopin cc]]>

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