I was interviewed for a news story that aired on KTLA here in Los Angeles about employer’s use of social media in evaluating applicants and employees. I’ve been writing and speaking about this topic for at least five years now, but given the pervasiveness of social media, the topic is only becoming more relevant with the increased use of social media today.
Employers need to remember to keep a few items in mind regarding social media and the workplace. California passed a law, Labor Code section 980, effective January 1, 2013 that prohibits employers from “requiring or requesting” employees and applicants to provide their passwords to social media accounts. Can California employers monitor employees’ internet usage under new Labor Code section 980?
Also, employers need to be aware of employee’s privacy rights. Can employers use employee’s posts to social media as basis for employment decisions or would this violate an employee’s right to privacy?
Finally, when a company encourages employees to use social media for work, there are some considerations the employer should take into account regarding the ownership of the social media accounts.
Generally speaking, employers may utilize social networking sites to conduct background checks on employees if:
- The employer and/or its agents conduct the background check themselves;
- The site is readily accessible to the public;
- The employer does not need to create a false alias to access the site;
- The employer does not have to provide any false information to gain access to the site; and
- The employer does not use the information learned from the site in a discriminatory manner or otherwise prohibited by law.