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New Jersey Employers May Not "Like" State's New Social Media "Privacy Settings"

On August 29, 2013, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed into law a new measure prohibiting employers from requiring employees or job applicants to provide login information or allow employer access to their accounts on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. While, under the law, employers may still view any publicly available information, they may not compel employees to disclose account passwords or “friend” company personnel.

The new law also prohibits employers from retaliating or discriminating against employees or applicants for refusing to provide their social media credentials or reporting alleged violations of the law. However, notwithstanding its broad prohibitions, the law does not provide aggrieved employees with a private right of action. Rather, alleged violations of the law will be investigated by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development and will be subject to civil penalties of up to $1,000 for the first violation and $2,500 for each additional violation.

In May 2013, Governor Christie vetoed an earlier version of the bill, which he called “well-intentioned but too broad.” That version would have allowed employees to bring suit for alleged violations of the law and would have prohibited employers from requiring employees to disclose whether they have a personal social media account. Those measures were struck from the final bill. The law also contains certain employer protections, such as permission to investigate employee compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and “prohibitions against work-related misconduct” when the employer receives specific information concerning an employee’s social media account.

The new law goes into effect December 1, 2013, and will make New Jersey the twelfth state to grant employees social media privacy rights, along with Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.

Copyright © 2021, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP.National Law Review, Volume III, Number 255
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About this Author

Christopher J. Collins, Sheppard Mullin Law Firm, Labor Law Attorney
Partner

Christopher Collins is a partner in the Labor and Employment Practice Group in the firm's New York office.

Areas of Practice

For more than 20 years, Chris has represented management clients in litigation alleging employment discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation, breach of contract, as well as cases involving non-compete agreements and compensation disputes.  In litigated matters, he has represented clients in a wide range of fields, including financial services, insurance, technology,...

212-634-3089
Adam Pekor, Labor, Employment, Lawyer, Sheppard Mullin
Attorney

Adam Pekor is an attorney in Labor & Employment Practice Group in the firm's New York office. Mr. Pekor counsels both for-profit and not-for-profit clients on a wide range of labor and employment matters, including employee hiring and disciplinary procedures, disability accommodation issues, restrictive covenants, worker classification issues, leaves of absence, wage and hour compliance, and employee severance and termination procedures.  Mr. Pekor has significant experience drafting all types of employment agreements and...

212-634-3099
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