Texas State Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa intends to file legislation that prohibits an employer from asking current, former, and prospective employees for passwords to personal social media accounts. With the recent rise in social media use, many employers have begun reviewing prospective and current employees by viewing what is on their public Facebook, Twitter or other social media profiles. Some employers even go so far as to request that employees give their employers passwords to allow access to social media.
A growing number of states are considering similar legislation. Under the legislation, an employer will still be allowed to view the information a user determines to be “public,” however, they will no longer be allowed to request access to information not shared publicly and meant to be personal. Senator Hinojosa also intends the bill to disallow employers from requesting passwords to online discussion forums, personal email accounts, and mobile applications.
State and federal governments are continuing to limit employers’ access to social media. Senator Hinojosa’s proposed bill seeks to ban a practice that most employers should avoid anyway. As discussed in several Underwood employment seminars, employers will get themselves into trouble the more “snooping” they use to gain information about prospective, current, or former employees. As we have repeatedly said, if employers choose to use social media as a tool, only public information should be used. It appears that Texas may be poised to turn this advice into the law.