The Florida Senate is considering joining a multitude of states which have banned employers from requesting or requiring access to current or prospective employees’ social media accounts.
Senate Bill SB198, entitled “An Act Relating to Social Media Privacy,” would prohibit employers from requiring or requesting access to employee or applicant social media accounts and from taking any retaliatory personnel action or refusal to hire based on an employee’s or applicant’s failure or refusal to provide access to the account. The proposed law would allow an employee or prospective employee to file a civil suit for injunctive relief and damages, including the recovery of attorney’s fees and costs should the employee or applicant prevail against the employer.
Several other states have already enacted similar laws. These states include Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Vermont and Washington, California, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, and New Jersey.
Employers in Florida and across the country will need to revisit some of the internal hiring, human resources, and monitoring practices they may be following, in particular, those of lower level managers and supervisors who may not be aware of these developments. Companies also need to reconsider what role they want employees to play in the businesses’ marketing strategies in social media.