New Jersey Protects You and Your Social Media Account

December 5, 2013 – In The News
Eye Opener

Scott Vernick was a guest on MYPHL 17s "Eye Opener" on December 4, 2013, to discuss a new law that prohibits employers from requesting access to individual employee’s or job applicant's social media accounts.

In an effort to protect proprietary information, “employers looking at perspective employees or job applicants or existing employees, were demanding as a condition of applying for employment or staying employed that employees or applicants tell them whether or not they had a social media account and the password for that social media account,” said Vernick, a noted privacy attorney.

This practice led to people not being hired, and sometimes caused existing employees to be fired. However, a new law, which went into effect December 1, 2013, makes this practice harder for companies to carry out.

"Now, 12 states, including New Jersey have put in place a social media law, which makes it illegal to ask a job applicant or an existing employee whether they have social media accounts and the passwords for those accounts," continued Vernick.

The law also prohibits employers from retaliating or discriminating against an individual for refusing to provide access to his or her personal account.

Some exceptions to the law, noted Vernick, include "the social media accounts that you use for work, like Facebook. The law is not going to impact that because that's sponsored by your employer and they obviously have a right to control the content of that particular account."

Vernick recommends keeping a clear distinction between personal and professional life when it comes to social media.

Employers in violation of the law will be fined $1,000 for the first offense and $2,500 for subsequent offenses.

Click here to watch the interview.