Law Office of Rick Morin

(916) 333-2222

Social Media in the Workplace

A large area of liability for employers is the extent to which they are allowed to manage the activities of their employees.

A new, developing area of the law is social media. Social media has exploded in the last few years. With everyone using Facebook, Twitter, and an ever-expanding list of social media services, employers must be wary of interfering with protected activities.

In 2012, California became one of the first states in the nation to address the use of social media in the workplace.

AB 1844 directly addressed a few thorny social media issues that were receiving significant media attention at the time.

AB 1844 was signed into law by Governor Brown in 2012, and it contains several provisions that all business owners must be aware of. The law was codified as Labor Code section 980.

Specifically, AB 1844 prohibits an employer from requesting or requiring that a job applicant or current employee disclose his or her social media usernames and passwords. This provision was in response to media outcry related to several high-profile cases were employers were demanding job applicants Facebook login credentials.

Not only is asking for social media login details now illegal under California law, but it is also a surefire way to create animosity amongst your employees or potential employees.

AB 1844 also prohibits an employer from requiring an employee or job applicant to access their social media in the direct presence of the employer.

The law does allow an employer to access social media information for the purposes of an “investigation of allegations of employee misconduct or employee violation of applicable laws and regulations…” This is a common-sense concession that allows a business owner to access social media information when it is relevant to investigations or legal proceedings.

Please contact my office if you have any questions about Labor Code section 980 or social media in the workplace. I can be reached at (916) 333-2222.