OREGON: New law protects personal social media accounts
A new law signed by Governor Kitzhaber puts the brakes on Oregon employers’ attempts to access employees’ and applicants’ personal social media accounts.
A new law signed by Governor Kitzhaber puts the brakes on Oregon employers’ attempts to access employees’ and applicants’ personal social media accounts. HB 2654, which goes into effect on January 1, 2014, makes it illegal for employers to require or request an employee or applicant to disclose his or her username and password, or other authentication method, to access the individual’s personal social media account. It will also be illegal to require the individual to add the employer to the individual’s list of contacts on the social media site, or to compel the individual to access a personal social media account in the presence of the employer, in a way that enables the employer to see its contents. Exempt from these prohibitions are the usernames and passwords for accounts that are used on behalf of the employer. For purposes of this new employment law, “social media” is defined broadly. It includes not just sites like Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn, but any electronic medium that allows users to create, share and view user-generated content, including videos, photos, blogs, video blogs, podcasts, instant messages, e-mail or Internet website profiles or locations.
Tips: As an employer, if you receive a complaint about an employee’s social networking activities, you can still investigate the complaint, as long as you don’t compel access to the accused person’s personal social networking site. This means you’ll likely have to do it the old-fashioned way, by interviewing the accused and witnesses. You can, however, require an employee to share content that has been reported to you as being in violation of law or policy, as long as the employee doesn’t have to give up their account authentication information—for example, you may ask a complaining employee for a screen shot of the offending material. The legal issues surrounding social media in the employment relationship are complex and constantly changing. If a situation arises, contact your Vigilant staff attorney for legal consulting and assistance, or contact us to learn more about the benefits of partnering with Vigilant for help with employment issues. Also, check out our “Social Networking Policy” (6310)