The Connecticut General Assembly recently passed Senate Bill No. 426 (2015) titled “An Act Concerning Employee Online Privacy.” This new law will prohibit employers from requiring employees or applicants to: (1) provide their user name and password or any other access to an employee’s personal online account; (2) access an online account in the employers presence; or (3) accept an invite or other invitation from the employer to join a group associated with the employee’s online account.
Unless Governor Malloy vetoes the Bill (which seems unlikely) it will take effect October 1, 2015. This Bill will apply to both private and public employers with the only exception to the pre-employment screening for law enforcement applicants
Essentially, the Act prohibits an employer from “firing, disciplining or otherwise retaliating against an employee” for refusing to provide access to their online accounts. In addition it prohibits an employer from refusing to hire an applicant because they did not provide access to their online accounts.
To make sure employers comply, an enforcement mechanism is included which charges the Connecticut Department of Labor to investigate complaints and impose civil fines against violators ranging from $25 against applicants and $500 against employees that can increase to $500 and $1,000 for continuing or repeat violations.
Because of the increase in use of social media and an individual’s online presence, it is important that human resource and personnel directors review their current policies and advise their managers and supervisors about these changes. Should you need one of our attorneys to review your current policies or to provide training to your managers, please contact us at (203) 783-1200.