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California Considers Law Limiting Prospective Employers' Social Media Access

California Considers Law Limiting Prospective Employers' Social Media Access

April 20th, 2012 by Mark Huffman of ConsumerAffairs in News

The recent revelation that prospective employers increasingly ask applicants for their Facebook passwords has raised eyebrows and sparked sharp reaction. California appears to be the first state to try to limit that activity.

The California State Assembly Judiciary Committee is preparing to hold hearings on Assembly Bill 1844, that would prohibit employers from requiring an employee or prospective employee to provide the username and password to their social media accounts, such as Facebook and Twitter.

"When we seek employment, we would never be expected to provide our prospective employer with personal information, such as family photos," said Assembly member Nora Campos, who sponsored the bill. "The same expectations must be applied to social media, where a user's personal profile is just that - personal."

Consumers seem to agree, based on a ConsumerAffairs analysis of about 100,000 comments on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

Removes some employer responsibility

The measure also specifically eliminates an employer's responsibility to search or monitor social media before hiring the employee as part of its duty under existing law to exercise reasonable care in employing a person and is required to use reasonable care to discover whether a potential employee is unfit or incompetent.

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, there are 129 cases from across the nation before the National Labor Relations Board in which employer workplace policies around social media are being scrutinized.

A recent survey by employment website CareerBuilder showed 37 percent of companies surveyed admitted to using social networking sites to research job candidates. Of the employers who do not research candidates on social media, only 15 percent said their company prohibits the practice. Eleven percent report they do not currently use social media to screen, but plan to start.