Maryland was recently the first state to prohibit employers from requesting passwords for social media sites such as Facebook from job applicants and employees. Further, applicants and employees may not be subject to retaliation such as refusal to hire or promote if they decline to disclose their personal passwords.
Approved by legislature in April 20, the law is awaiting the governor's signature for finalization. Several other states, including California, Minnesota, and Illinois, are considering similar laws that would ban employers from accessing employees' personal electronic accounts.
With this scrutiny to applicant and employee privacy, employers are reminded that there are drawbacks to using information found on social networks when making hiring and promotion decisions. In addition to privacy issues, delving that deeply into an applicant or employee's personal life reveals aspects that shouldn't be considered when making employment decisions, such as age, race, marital status, and religion, which could violate rights under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
To screen applicants and employees while still using technology and staying within the law, Nextep recommends that companies obtain a signed authorization to conduct a background check that aligns with the job responsibilities. To learn more about effective hiring practices, please contact Nextep's HR Department.