The Lesson for Employers or Would-Be Employers Should Be Pretty Clear
The two Senators have announced that they are preparing legislation prohibiting the practice as violation of privacy, which job applicants have little if any way to fight against. This is especially important during the job-seeking process, when all the power is on one side of the fence, Blumenthal said in his prepared statement. Blumenthal said that hes confident that the practice will be found to violate federal law. The senators noted that Facebook itself announced that such a practice would violate its privacy policies, and that the company intended to take legal action against any employer that violated it or forced Facebook users to reveal their log-in credentials.Employers are allowed to see what your employees or applicants say in public, and you can do that by viewing the information they post in public. But if you go beyond whats public and base a hiring or employment decision on protected information, youre setting yourself up for serious legal problems. You could even find that youre committing a crime, an activity that would be certain to annoy your legal department. If your human resources department is doing this, it might be a good idea to suggest that they take refresher training in EEOC nondiscrimination practices. You might also have them refer to the cases mentioned above for details on how they might be impacted by civil liability claims. If youre a job applicant, the story is a little different. If youre applying for a job, and your prospective employer demands your social network log-in info, then you have a decision to make. Do you really want to work for a company that could be potentially violating federal law? If you really need this job, then ask the employer to make the request for credentials in writing. If you dont get the job, file a complaint with the EEOC, and use the written request as evidence. Of course, you have to understand that there are a few jobs out there where the employer will still get to look at your private Facebook information. So if youre applying for a highly sensitive job at an intelligence agency, youd better hope that your Facebook pages dont contain anything incriminating. But in reality, you should make sure that your Facebook pages dont contain anything thats potentially harmful to your employment or your peace of mind. Even if your employer doesnt haveand cant getaccess, that doesnt mean your friends cant. And while I cant tell you whether to trust your friends, just ask yourself if theres anything in your Facebook profile that would be a problem if one of the people you trust decided to release it. If so, it shouldnt be there.
The lesson to employers or would-be employers is quite clear: If youre asking potential employees for their social network log-in info, then youre almost certainly breaking the law.