Who You Hire (And How) Matters
California and Maryland are racing to become the first states to make it illegal for an employer to ask a potential employee, or any employee, for their social media log-in information.
This has been big news lately, as employees begin to report that they were required (or at least asked forcefully) to reveal their log-in information so their employers could sort through their emails, photos and private messages.
No sooner had the news of this begun to spread than the American Civil Liberties Union jumped into the fray with both feet. They say this is a clear infringement on personal privacy rights and legislators in most states have expressed their agreement. I, too, tend to agree.
As a former employer I can tell you that regardless of how well you conduct an interview and how many background checks you do on an individual is still mostly a secret when they come to work for you. The truth of who they are and what they can (or can’t) do for you only comes to light after you have invested time, money and effort into training them properly. And then it’s too late.
So, on the one hand I can see who employers would want to peek into as many closets of potential employees as possible, including social media, but on the other hand, I understand too that there must be a certain element of trust in our dealings with every one. If you cannot build trust with your employees, if you cannot trust them to do their job effectively when your back is turned; to treat your company, your clients and customers properly, you will not glean this from perusing their Facebook page.
And it seems that soon, you may not be legally able to do so anyway.
Next week, the California State Assembly Judiciary Committee will determine the fate of Assembly Bill 1844, authored by Assemblymember Nora Campos (D-San Jose). The bill would prohibit employers from requiring an employee or prospective employee to provide the username and password to their social media accounts, such as Facebook and Twitter.
“When we seek employment, we would never be expected to provide our prospective employer with personal information, such as family photos,” said Assemblymember Nora Campos. “The same expectations must be applied to social media, where a user’s personal profile is just that – personal.”
In addition to the prohibition the bill would place on requirements that applicants provide prospective employees with access to their social media accounts, AB 1844 specifically eliminates an employer’s responsibility to search or monitor social media before hiring the employee as part of its duty under existing law to exercise reasonable care in employing a person and is required to use reasonable care to discover whether a potential employee is unfit or incompetent.