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Sep 3, 2013

By Eric B. Meyer

It took some doing, but the State of New Jersey finally has itself a workplace social media privacy law, becoming the 12th state to restrict company access to prospective and current employee social media.

Back in the Spring, I reported here that the New Jersey  Legislature sent a version of the bill to Gov. Chris Christie. However, to protect New Jersey businesses, Gov. Christie conditionally vetoed the proposed legislation and sent is back to both the New Jersey House and Senate with some proposed changes.

Both the House and Senate accepted these changes and sent the amended legislation back to Gov. Christie, which he formally signed late last week.

Notable differences in the New Jersey law

Like similar laws in other states, this new law prohibits employers from requiring prospective and current employees from disclosing online user names and passwords. And while I do not advocate social-media-credential requests from employers, it’s worth noting that there are severable notable differences in the new New Jersey law, which loosen the restraints on local companies:

Many public employers which deal in public safety are exempted;

  • Any employer may require that the login/password of any account maintained for business purposes of the employer — even if created by a current or prospective employee — be disclosed;
  • Employers can also demand login/password as part of several categories of workplace investigations;
  • Employers can ask a current or prospective employee if he/she has a social media account; and,
  • Any aggrieved current or prospective employee may report an alleged violation to the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development, but cannot bring a private action against the employer.

The new law goes into effect on December 1, 2013.

This was originally published on Eric B. Meyer’s blog, The Employer Handbook.

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