Maine has become the latest state to enact a bill prohibiting employers from accessing employees’ personal social media accounts. Under the new Act (Bill H 640), employers cannot require or coerce an employee or potential employee to disclose his or her password to any of his or her social media accounts. These accounts may include electronic mediums or services that allow the creation and sharing of videos, photographs, text messages, e-mails, blogs, and podcasts.
As stated in the law, employers cannot require an employee from accessing his or her personal social media accounts in the employer’s presence. Further, employers are prohibited from requiring their employees or prospective employees from adding them to their personal social media account list of contacts. If employees refuse to disclose or provide access to their personal social media accounts, employers cannot retaliate by discharging, disciplining, or penalizing them. However, there are exceptions regarding accessing employees’ personal social media accounts stated in the law. Information can be accessed by an employer, if:
- information is publicly available,
- as established by a self-regulatory organization, there is a duty to screen employees or prospective employees, and
- allegations of employee misconduct or a workplace-related violation exist.
To stay compliant, employers must review their workplace policies. Any violation may result in fines imposed by Maine’s Department of Labor.