800 million Facebook users post more than 3 billion comments and "likes" every day. Legal observers have long predicted a faceoff as courts seek to define how employers may respond to their workers' questionable or conflicting behavior on the social network. In determining whether an online statement gives rise to a wrongful termination claim, courts in California and around the country must decide how similar Internet activity is to other areas of protection.
Two bills are progressing through the California legislature, aimed at stopping colleges, universities and employers from requesting passwords to social media sites such as Facebook or LinkedIn from applicants. One of the problems with using social media as a screening tool is the potential for protected information - such as an applicant's race, ethnicity, gender, age or sexual preference - to become the basis for employment discrimination. We've previously discussed this issue on our blog.
In response to the growing trend of employers asking current and prospective employees for login information for personal social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, discussed previously on our employment law blog, California Assembly Member Nora Campos proposed AB 1844, a bill that would prohibit California employers from doing so. According to Campos, a user's personal profile should be left exactly that -- personal.
Name. Address. Work History. References. Facebook password. The first four are commonly understood to be necessary information when applying for a new job, but the fifth - a Facebook password - is working its way onto the list of information requested by future employers before a job offer is made.