On March 21, 2013, the New Jersey General Assembly passed a bill (A2878) that prohibits employers from requiring or requesting that employees or job candidates disclose user names and passwords for their social media accounts. The Bill also prohibits employers from inquiring whether these individuals have personal social networking accounts. Any employer who retaliates or discriminates against an applicant or employee based on the refusal to provide access to a social media account or to disclose a user name or a password may face a private cause of action by the job candidate or employee and civil penalties of up to $1,000 for the first instance and up to $2,500 for each additional violation. An aggrieved employee could file suit against an employer for up to a year following the violation and recover attorneys’ fees and costs of suit.
On October 1, 2012, a decision issued by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which is an agency of the United States Government charged with remedying unfair labor practices, upheld the termination of a BMW salesman for postings made to his Facebook page. In the case of Karl Knauz Motors, Inc., NLRB ALJ, No. 13-CA-46452, 9/28/11, administrative law judge Joel P. Biblowitz found that a BMW salesman engaged in unprotected activity when he posted disparaging comments and photographs regarding an accident which occurred at an employer owned neighboring Land Rover dealership on his Facebook page.
Viewing Social Networking Sites i.e. MySpace and Facebook Exposes Employers to Claims of Employment Discrimination
Employers are turning to social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook to conduct background checks of job applicants and employees. Social networking profiles allow employers to get a sense of what a potential applicant is like and to check up on activities of current employees. Profiles provide employers the opportunity to search out information about applicants and employees that would otherwise be unattainable.